Geert van Leeuwen

Legal counsel

'My work is a constant balancing act: I want to give ABN AMRO 'smart' legal advice while meeting our clients' needs. That makes it challenging and interesting.' 

First a young person's bank account and now a job as legal counsel 

Donald Duck? Rather the FD newspaper! 

'When I was 12 years old, I earned my first pocket money. It was in the early 2000s, and I had a newspaper round in the village where I lived. With a handful of guilders, I went into several bank branches. When I got to the counter, I said: 'I am Geert and I would like to open an account.' ABN AMRO was the only bank that took me seriously. I opened an Ajax account and got a computer game with it. I couldn't believe my luck!' 

'That's where my interest in finance all began. While classmates were buying the Donald Duck magazine, I read the Financieele Dagblad. I started investing at a young age and researched where I could get the most interest on my savings. A law degree and a master's degree in business law were logical steps for me. I got my first job at the Banking department of a law firm in the Zuidas (financial district of Amsterdam.'

Room for initiative

'I found that work very challenging from a legal perspective, but I missed the commercial side. That's why I decided to join ABN AMRO, where I am in the Legal Lending team. We provide large corporate clients with legal advice on loans. I am legally involved in the transactions and I also work on the structure in relation to our clients: why are we granting this loan to this party? Do we want to lend more in this area?' 

'Lawyers can be a bit set in their ways – we sit with our noses in law books all day. But that's not the case at ABN. Everyone is flexible and there is room for new ideas. Just before the coronavirus crisis, I said I wanted to work at the office once or twice a week. Then you get to know each other better and I answered questions pretty easily. Of course, that didn't happen, but ABN AMRO was immediately open to it.'

Developing every day

'I'm always trying to strike a balance between giving ABN AMRO 'smart' legal advice and meeting our clients' needs. The bank is also constantly changing; economic developments have a direct impact on the loans granted by the bank. Each working day brings new challenges. That keeps the work varied and exciting.' 

'The legal department employs 180 people and I am in a team of ten colleagues. We have good, regular contact. It is important to us that everyone continues developing within the field. I have taken course on financing and collateral at Grotius Academie, which offers postgraduate training for lawyers. The fact that I now work in a bank rather than in a law firm is already a great personal development for me. I still learn something every day.' 

Teaching about money matters

'ABN AMRO does a lot of work on social impact. It's funny... social commitment is much more important to me than I previously thought. Our Foundation offers the 'Bank voor de klas' ('Bank for the classroom') project, which provides lessons about finance in primary schools. A teaching module has been developed that teaches children about money in a playful, accessible way. It's very enjoyable. It is rewarding work, and essential as well: money is important so we need to take it seriously.' 

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