There is so much officialdom to sort out when moving to the Netherlands that new arrivals can often find themselves going round in circles. And one of the most pressing problems many have faced is that of opening a new bank account.
You can easily end up in a spiral, where you needed a bank account to deposit your salary, but you need a BSN social security number to open an account – and some local authorities can take months to sort that out.
At ABN Amro now, though, one of these steps is a lot easier. You no longer need a Dutch to open a bank account so you can potentially set up your account before you move via the ABN Amro banking app.
The bank can meet legal obligations around identity checks and money laundering by asking foreign customers for their foreign tax identifier number in order to set up the account. Then, later, people can add their Dutch BSN number when the necessary steps have been taken and it has been issued – within 90 days of opening the account.
“The bank did not really change its policy to onboard expats and international students but we did just think more creatively about how we can help them digitally,” says Siri Mauer, head of segment development for consumer clients.
“We thought, if these people need to come to the Netherlands, and they need to open a bank account, how can we help them digitally instead of sending them to a branch office? I moved to South Africa once, and you’re stressed enough handling everything you need to handle when you are going abroad.”
Barbara Caron, project lead, can also empathise with the expat experience. “From a convenience perspective, if you already have a bank account, it really helps to pay for your groceries, rent and receive your first salary,” she says. “We are often the first company expats are visiting – even if they already have an account – to also discuss insurance, how money is handled in the Netherlands, and we can explain more about money instead of having an hour just to open an account.”
Expats from the US will still need to have a physical appointment at an ABN Amro branch, but most others can open their account using a foreign tax identifier number. The bank will then make a video call appointment within the first two weeks to answer any questions and discuss other issues.
ABN Amro also offers a host of other services to internationals as well. You can sign up for a mortgage, for example, or invest. The bank also runs a warm welcome programme especially for expats and offers online seminars on key issues like buying a house.
Around 70% of the bank’s students, for example, are internationals and many of them stay in the Netherlands for good. So it also makes business sense to devote a lot of attention to helping this group. ABN Amro’s average customer age is relatively young and customer loyalty is high.
There might be internet-only banks available out there, but Caron says there’s an advantage to choosing a traditional bank that has all the internet services and add-ons you might need. “We’re a trusted bank, but 98% of our services are already digital and we’re really proud of that,” she says. “And we find that if you offer an excellent service, people will stay loyal.”
Find out more about ABN Amro’s expat service here
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