As a business controller, my main role is of course to ensure that the management has the correct financial reports to make good decisions. But our discipline is developing very fast. Increasingly, business controllers are being expected to look beyond financial columns and to become strategic partners of the management.

Here’s an example. Nationale-Nederlanden Bank plans to widen the policy for rate classes. This means that we’ll automatically reduce the mortgage interest rate if a customer becomes eligible for a lower risk premium because of repayments or a rise in the value of his or her home. I used a model to calculate the financial impact of introducing this policy. The management can use this to make their decisions.

I also play a coordinating role in the monthly balance management meetings, where everything is brought together. I make sure that the correct information reaches the bank’s senior management. This is how we manage our products – savings, investments, loans, mortgages – and prices.

I have lots of meetings every day. For example on the profitability of our mortgages: what are our funding costs? What are our operating costs? And what is the customer paying? Or I discuss what we refer to as the standard model. We use this to try and establish how we should price our products to achieve a specific profitability.

The most important thing is that we know our figures and understand how we arrived at them. But also that we’re flexible. Because the world around us is changing incredibly quickly. The influence of technological developments on our financial services and products is changing and is accelerating how we use money. To respond properly to the changing business, our processes have to be competitive and efficient.

I started my career as a finance trainee in central government. It was a pleasant and socially relevant environment. However, I realised that I would prefer to work in a more substantive and commercial setting. And that’s how I ended up in a control role in the Wholesale Banking department of a large financial services provider. In 2017, a recruiter approached me about the role of Business Controller at Nationale-Nederlanden Bank. I was open to a new challenge and made the move.

For me, a relatively small bank is ideal. We work here with a small, dedicated team of business controllers, which makes me an all-rounder. Added to this, the lines are short and the culture is informal. Accounting & Reporting and Treasury, but also Risk and members of the management team: we’re all on the same floor of the building and pop into each other’s offices.

Putting your hand up, asking questions and giving your opinion. Initiative is valued here. At the same time, the bar is high. The management really expects something from us, so you have to perform. This mix really appeals to me. There’s also a lot of focus on training and development. For example, this year I’m taking part in the Accelerate Leadership Bootcamp, a knowledge programme for which 45 high potentials from NN Group are selected. We had the kick-off meeting recently in Madrid. I’m proud to be chosen to take part in this!

Stephanie Isenborghs
Senior Business Controller, NN Bank