But despite all Insinger s experience in asset management and trading tropical products, the company was only ever moderately successful in the Dutch East Indies.
The third generation
Insinger s third generation continued to run a variety of businesses. Financial services predominated, accounting for 60 to 80% of gross profit. The Insinger owners set keeping the firm going as a clear priority over profit maximisation. Between 1857 and 1901, the balance sheet total grew steadily, before subsequently declining as profits slipped lower. Competition from the new commercial and mortgage banks with the legal status of limited liability company made deep inroads into the business of Insinger, which was not able to tap the international capital markets as they were doing.
In addition, new dynamic companies such as Adolphe Boissevain & Co. and Labouchere Oyens & Co. were running their investment banking and stock brokerage businesses at international level with great success. Last but not least, trading in tropical products was gradually being transferred to the producing countries and passing into the hands of large specialised merchants.
Fritz Insinger II remained actively involved until he was over 70. After his death in May 1920, control of Insinger passed to the fourth generation, to brothers Frederik Gustaaf and Lodewijk Adriaan Insinger, who still referred to themselves as merchants and bankers .
1920 to 1940
After the First World War the position of the trading houses became increasingly delicate. With their strong growth, the commercial banks now dominated the lending market, squeezing out the trading houses. The Insinger brothers had to review the company strategy once again, just as previous generations had done, and they opted for a mix of old and new. They decided to stay with mortgage financing for real estate developers, while retaining their plantation activities in Surinam and the Dutch East Indies and continuing with the cocoa refining business. However they started to build up their portfolio of lending against securities pledged as guarantee, currency dealing, securities broking and portfolio management. These two last businesses now came to represent the main source of revenue, alongside commission earned on account management.
Insinger at a new crossroads
In the early 1950s, Insinger once again found itself at the crossroads. The two partners, now aged over eighty, urgently needed to find successors. Jan Lodewijk (Louis) Insinger (born in 1923), son of Frederik Gustaaf Insinger, joined the firm as a partner in 1950.
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