History of the Amsterdam bank Insinger de Beaufort N.V., a BNP Paribas subsidiary

Hermann Albrecht Insinger

Around 1760, the city of Amsterdam was one of the world s main trading centres. Major trading houses such as Clifford & Zoonen and Hope & Co., plus the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, made the city an important centre for all the financial deals carried out by the great powers. For anyone whose ambition was to learn everything about trade and finance Amsterdam was the place to be. This was why so many young men from all over Europe went there to improve their knowledge and hone their skills.

On 23 June 1768, one of these ambitious young men, Hermann Albrecht Insinger, arrived in Amsterdam from Westphalia and in 1771 started working as an apprentice with the German merchant Bernhard Baum. He soon attracted attention through his talent and his personal contacts and in 1781 he was sent to the Caribbean to represent the heirs of the merchant Frederik Berewout on the islands of Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John which at the time belonged to Denmark, with the task of managing the firm s interests on the ground. At that time the planters in the West Indies used to finance their operations by means of plantation loans or Plantagenegotiatie, an ingenious method of financing invented in 1753 by Willem Gideon Deutz, a banker and former mayor of Amsterdam. Deutz granted mortgages to the New World planters as a means of remedying their chronic lack of capital and their cash flow problems. The mortgages were secured against their land, buildings, equipment and sometimes even their slaves. This solution enabled the planters to obtain funds on a long-term basis at reasonable and stable rates of interest. Reimbursement and interest payments were contractually guaranteed by their production of coffee, sugar, cocoa and cotton, which were sent to Amsterdam to be sold. The banker, or rather the trader, transformed these receivables into negotiable instruments, either in the

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