In association with Leaseurope and Eurofinas
Carlo van Kemenade, CEO of DLL, spoke to Asset Finance Connect’s equipment finance community leader John Rees in the latest AFC leadership interview, in association with Leaseurope and Eurofinas.
Carlo van Kemenade leads the world’s largest asset finance and vendor finance provider. Taking up his leadership responsibility in February 2022, Carlo has recently completed a tour of the DLL global network to bring his vision and refreshed strategy to DLL. So, what is it like to manage a global vendor finance company which is a 100% subsidiary of Rabobank, a Dutch cooperative bank?
Future vision for DLL
After being appointed as CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of DLL in February 2022, Carlo van Kemenade is responsible for implementing the company’s strategic plans, which enable DLL to deliver integrated financial solutions to manufacturers and distribution partners in more than 25 countries around the world.
Van Kemenade joined DLL from Obvion, one of the largest mortgage providers in the Netherlands and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rabobank, where he held the position of CEO and Chairman of the Board between 2018 and 2022. Prior to his time with Obvion, Van Kemenade had a career with DLL that spanned more than 25 years, where he progressed through the ranks and built leadership experience in finance, operations, risk, IT, sales and general management, including assignments in several European countries and the United States. In 2013, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board of DLL and was responsible for all country operations and IT activities across DLL’s entire global network.
During his first year back at DLL in 2022, Van Kemenade spent time travelling throughout DLL’s global network reconnecting with DLL’s 5,500 employees in over 25 countries. The reunions with colleagues but also with customers were a fantastic experience for Van Kemenade. The reconnection was a big success as a following engagement survey amongst the 5,500 showed an extremely high score that outpaced the market, showing that loyalty and engagement is ever present in DLL’s network and making Van Kemenade extremely proud.
DLL has a strong management organisation. Currently composing and expanding the Executive Board team, Van Kemenade sees his ‘Team EB’ as “collectively responsible for the total strategy, while speaking with one voice”.
Van Kemenade sees DLL as united with a strong foundation, hands-on, and good at executing and delivering strategies due to:
- Consistent service across DLL’s global network
- A people strategy, where all employees can get the best out of themselves every day. Execution power and teamwork is part of the cultural experience at DLL.
- Discipline in planning processes – DLL’s refreshed strategy has roadmaps with timelines, initiatives, ownership. Roadmaps are clear and realistic, with progress monitored. Roadmaps have critical paths to see when things are delayed and might affect other roadmaps.
Rather than looking at geographical expansion at the current time, DLL are focusing on sustainability, digitalisation and DLL’s unique culture, whilst optimising and expanding their value propositions for their vendors, dealers and customers.
The core business model of DLL
“We strive for deep partnerships with deep mutual understanding not just for one another’s industries and business models, but we also want to be a cultural fit for our partners as well,” commented DLL’s Carlo van Kemenade.
Delivering a consistent experience for its vendor partners across all global markets in which it operates, DLL represents its partners’ business and understands the customer experience.
DLL’s commercial performance, and partner and customer satisfaction are constantly monitored and measured, with DLL’s Net Promoter Score exceeding the market and improving for a fourth consecutive year to +62 (2021: +53).
DLL has a new and refreshed strategy which is accelerating their digital transformation. Van Kemenade sees digitalisation starting at the point of sale and connecting with customers, partners and dealers with DLL systems and databases to enable the most flexible customer journey possible.
DLL wants the customer journey to be 100% digitalised and customer friendly. With Covid accelerating the digitalisation journey, DLL have more than doubled their investment and resources in accelerating the strategic digital journey over the next three years.
Van Kemenade highlighted the benefits of having Rabobank as its parent company including the stability during a financial crisis to always provide 100% continuity in funding to its partners and customers. As well as sharing knowledge and expertise with each other, particularly relating the food and agricultural business, Rabobank and DLL also share people talent (like Carlo van Kemenade himself) as the bank can offer career advancement in different ways.
Significantly, DLL has recently become one of the three key strategic pillars of Rabobank, who see DLL as a co-facilitator for the ESG journey (climate and energy transition as well as food transition, many of which are applicable to DLL’s new strategy). As Van Kemenade notes, “the bank views DLL as the facilitator and the lead player in asset-based finance products”.
ESG and sustainability
The Energy Transition Team was set up at DLL to manage its sustainability goals across all sectors and divisions. DLL see the ‘Road to Paris’ as their highest priority, helping to facilitate the transition to net zero. From a sustainability perspective, DLL’s redefined purpose is to help improve the world, combining with their partners to create a better world. This also provides new commercial opportunities for DLL and their partners.
Most of DLL’s partners are also on the ‘Road to Paris’ and they expect DLL to be on the same journey. Some partners want to be guided by DLL and some will go at a faster pace than DLL, according to Van Kemenade. This is most evident in the construction, transportation and logistics/industry (30% of portfolio) business, and in the food and agricultural business (40% of portfolio), so effectively 70% of DLL’s portfolio and their partners are busy on the ‘Road to Paris’.
DLL aligns and strategizes with their partners whilst looking at commercial opportunities with them; for example, clean technology from a climate perspective but also looking at greener assets that help the transition – finding the right balance in the journey to Net Zero. DLL are also currently developing an e-mobility strategy.
Organisationally, DLL are addressing the energy transition by establishing an energy transition team in the commercial domain. The team will support NGOs to capture commercial opportunities by following developments and translating them into commercial plans to approach the players and networks where these opportunities can be found.
Pay-per-Use financing is a topic at the forefront of DLL’s thinking. As a frontrunner in the Pay-per-Use concept, DLL have been able to apply it successfully to the marketplace and, whilst current demand is low, Van Kemenade sees huge potential over the next decade.
Carlo van Kemenade believes that the industry must be patient with new sustainable financing models, with the ‘Road to Paris’ justifying any investments and creating payback.
Pay-per-Use is the future, according to Van Kemenade, as he believes that over the next few years almost everything we do will be focused on circularity, with Pay-per-Use being an important part of it.
Van Kemenade sees ESG as a critical part of the DLL recruitment process. Younger talent care for purpose and want to work for a purposeful company who positively contribute to ESG and DLL gives all members an opportunity to contribute.
Carlo van Kemenade spoke passionately and honestly about his own career journey at Rabobank and DLL and how that positive rewarding experience has helped him see the importance of talent recognition and development in the asset finance business: “Healthy growth combined with healthy opportunities combined with a very well thought through people strategy where there is sufficient money available to invest in talent.”
Purpose is important because people want to work for a company which doesn’t just prioritise profit but has a clear focus on planet and people. Van Kemenade believes that DLL have an obligation to look after the planet as well as the next generation of talent.
Van Kemenade believes that there is a need for both new and mature experienced talent: “In the war for talent you have to cherish several generations.” Members who stay at DLL need to be kept fit, happy and healthy for longer, which requires extra investment. Van Kemenade discussed bringing back retired members to DLL to share their experiences with younger talent.