75 years! At the start of the year we tought we would be celebrating this anniversary in style. But things didn’t go as expected.Due to COVID-19 measures, we had to slightly change our activities. That meant adapting, which is something we’re very good at here at NIBC.

We’re certainly not letting the anniversary go unnoticed. We think it’s a great time to reflect on our distinctive past, as well as look to the future. What does the future hold for NIBC? For this magazine, we spoke to former colleagues, business contacts, clients, as well as lots of young talent. In a discussion with our CRO, one said he wasn’t surprised by the changes that have taken place over the past 75 years, adding that there are many more to come. He added that he was pleased about the opportunities naturally generated by the changes.

I was delighted with his statement. It captures exactly what it’s all about. In my view, change and action are essential in order to perform and grow. My colleagues know that I often compare NIBC to a sailboat. When you’re out on the boat, there’s really only one thing you can do: look around you at what’s happening and adapt to the circumstances and to the wind. After all, the wind is one thing you can’t control. But you can adjust the sails and lines, training and preparing your staff and the people on board so they can make the best use of what comes at them. This is also reflected in the three NIBC values: professionalism, entrepreneurship and inventiveness. Anyone who works for our bank is used to continually adjusting to the outside world. But we carry on setting our own course, and that’s why we enjoy working here so much. Together, we ensure that we continue to change and adapt to these new times. And I hope this will make everyone happy.

I sometimes say with a joke: “If you want to work on the ferry line to Terschelling, NIBC isn’t the place for you.” It’s a great job to have. The weather’s always nice, otherwise it doesn’t run. And you know where you’re heading; you’re sailing from A to B and back. And you’re almost always carrying people who are in a good mood. But we’re not a ferry.

Nor are we an oil tanker, such as the larger banks, and that’s something we need to be aware of. An oil tanker is great, but if you’re not an oil tanker you shouldn’t behave like one. It’s important to be realistic, and we really are a sailboat. We always need wind. Too little wind means we stand still and can’t move forward. But too much wind – stormy weather – is also not good for a smaller boat like ours. Everything in between is great. It keeps us moving and gives us the ability to navigate. One of our business contacts in England, Juan Lobato, founder of fintech company Ebury, stresses the importance of change. ‘Embrace change,’ he said in a talk when asked about his vision for the future. I agree with that. Be open to action and change. As a bank, that’s something we’ve been dealing with for 75 years and that’s how it will always be. Just when you think you’re on course, you have to tack again and move the jib up or down again. That’s how it works out at sea, and that’s how it works at NIBC. We are facing a changing market, fintech companies are going to play a bigger role and interest rates are extremely low. We need to deal with these developments and I know we can.

NIBC has very talented and professional employees, a nice mix of young and old, men and women, and our colleagues have very diverse backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites them, and that’s their entrepreneurial spirit. All NIBC employees are entrepreneurial and say Yes more often than No. That’s something I’m very proud of. New ideas are formed and are developed into new products, labels and companies on a regular basis. This has resulted in NIBC’s status for 75 years as the bank for entrepreneurs, but I would go so far as to add that it’s a bank run by entrepreneurs. Sails up, and on to the next anniversary!

Paulus de Wilt, CEO of NIBC