Over the last 6 years, much has been made about how banks lost their way when it came to putting themselves ahead of customers in the lead up to the financial crisis. How customers were screwed over in the quest for profits. How moral compasses were broken. Responding to outrage over the marked shift in how business is done, banks have commissioned studies, investigated claims, and promised to change. Up until this week, though, a bank CEO had yet to perform a play about how his firm had found its way through the wisdom of a fictional brothel owner. Thankfully, Gerrit Zalm took it upon himself to fill that void.

ABN Amro Group NV Chairman and former Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm went on stage in an electric blue dress and golden gloves to portray a fictional brothel-owning sister teaching the bank about core values. “The bank can learn a lot from the best practices in my company,” Zalm, dressed as his “sister” Priscilla, said in the opening act of ABN Amro Cabaret 2014, held for employees in Amsterdam and two other Dutch cities. “Where has ‘putting the customer first’ been the motto for centuries? In my industry. Those banks have discovered it only recently.” …

Zalm, 61, who also wore a red wig, blue glasses, earrings and make-up, was hired by the Netherlands in 2008 to piece together the banking assets of a merged ABN and Fortis that it took over after the latter collapsed. The government spent 16.8 billion euros ($23 billion) on the rescue. “He had to make ABN Amro a successful company again and had no idea how to do that,” Priscilla (Zalm) said. “I told him you have to start with core values. In my company there are three: to be trusted, professional and ambitious.” The cabaret shows, held from Jan. 6 to Jan. 10, are an annual event that began at ABN Amro Holding NV, ABN Amro’s predecessor, in 2005, said Jeroen van Maarschalkerweerd, a spokesman for the bank.

To recap: the chair of ABN Amro:

  • Was fitted for a dress with a cape
  • Stuffed his bra
  • Had his face done
  • Donned a wig
  • Inhabited the role of a madam named Priscilla
  • Who was supposed to be the real life Zalm’s sister
  • And told employees the story of how she showed him how to save the bank
  • By getting back to basics
  • Chief among them, putting the customer first
  • Just like they do at the ole brothel

He then took the show on the road. Naturally, there is a recording. Regardless of your fluency in Dutch, it’s worth a viewing.

It goes without saying that the ball’s in your court, Lloyd.

ABN Amro Chairman Dons Blue Dress to Explain Core Values [Bloomberg]
Openingsact van het ABN AMRO Cabaret 2014 door de ‘zus van’ voorzitter Gerrit Zalm [YouTube]

11 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (11)

  1. Posted by S&T M&A | January 15, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    We're all commission and fee whores.

  2. Posted by guest | January 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Boy needs Spanx. That's all I'm sayin'

  3. Posted by Elliott | January 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    OMG. Put about 30 pounds on her and she's a dead ringer for the Gasbag's wife. Wonder if he's dropped anchor in that port???

  4. Posted by Quant me maybe... | January 15, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Do I want to work at ABN Amro?

    > Guy who doesn't know much about banks, but knows way too much about their sales guys and brokers.

  5. Posted by AMRO-associate | January 15, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    During our compliance training session last year, we all were required to wear tinfoil hats, lederhosen, and clogs. At the end, they took us all outside where we danced around a maypole and sang songs.

    This was all at the New York office, so it's cool to see that the guys in Holland are keeping up.

  6. Posted by ThatsVVacc | January 15, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    I'm going to get Zach Kouwe to tell me where you are employed so I can show up there and beat the hell out of you for this comment.

    – Chaz Gasparino

  7. Posted by Jayne Jagot | January 15, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Goals of this would include not having your shitty derivative trades become the subject of court decisions so lengthy and detailed even Matt Levine gets jealous. http://dealbreaker.com/2012/11/sp-gets-in-trouble

  8. Posted by Bored Guest | January 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    I think you mean Danish.

    – UBS Pastry Quant

  9. Posted by guest | January 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    go on…

  10. Posted by guest | January 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    that chick is stacked!

  11. Posted by Bandersnatch | January 16, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    It's not "putting the customer first"; it's "the customer comes first".