The various banks still had to be integrated into a single organisation. This was a diffiicult process as the businesses and the culture of the three companies were very different. MeesPierson was a highly specialised multinational bank while Generale Bank Nederland and VSB operated as universal banks at local level but with different clienteles.
In order to ensure growth and draw on synergies from the merger, Fortis Banque Nederland was structured according to business lines rather than the legal structures. In 1999, the market in the Netherlands was organised along two main business lines: IPS (Individuals, Professionals and Small Entreprises) and MEC (Medium Entreprises and Corporate). The market share of the IPS business line was around 8%. The network of Dutch branches was organised into two departments. Retail activities were based on a network of 270 branches spread over 10 regions. The Personal Banking business was initially developed via a network of 40 branches spread over four zones, working in collaboration with the Retail branches, especially in the securities and insurance fields. Finally a so-called non-bricks distribution channel took care of the coordination of the call centres.
Given its relatively modest market share and limited growth potential, Fortis Bank Nederland made an effort to target its businesses at specific clientele. In retail banking, the bank created a range of tailor-made services, focusing its efforts on affluent private individuals and small and medium-sized companies, while still innovating and maintaining a diverse range of distribution channels.
Directbank, for example, achieved excellent results by marketing home loans through intermediaries. In 2006-2007, the Bank also made substantial progress in the mortgage market. Moreover it was twice named Commercial Bank of the Year in the Netherlands.
As regards the Private Banking business line, this was set up at Fortis Banque in 1999 through the amalgamation of the activities of MeesPierson, the private banking departments of Générale de Banque and Banque Générale du Luxembourg, and Compagnie de Gestion et Banque Gonet, a banking house founded in Geneva in 1842. The MeesPierson brand survived at first but in 2005 the international branches of the former company operating in 23 countries and managing assets amounting to 53 billion euros were transferred to the Fortis label. Only the Dutch branch of MeesPierson continued to do business under the name Fortis MeesPierson, in order to avoid upsetting the local clientele, who had a strong allegiance to the old company name.
In March 2002, Fortis acquired the Netherlands-based Intertrust Group, an international trust company specialising in fiduciary and company management services. Intertrust was a leader in its sector. It offered a full range of services such as setting up and managing companies, administration, accounting, fiduciary services and treasury management. The clientele comprised high-net-worth private individuals, heads of companies, family- owned businesses, professional intermediaries and multinationals. In addition to the headquarters in Amsterdam, Intertrust had a network of 12 branches worldwide and staff of 350.
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