Beobank and Vlerick make transformation happen

New Prime Foundation Partnership with Beobank

Guy Roosen (Beobank)Partnering up with such an internationally renowned business school as Vlerick was something we’d been thinking about for a while,” says Guy Roosen, Member of the Executive Committee at Beobank – formerly Citibank Belgium. “We’ve been through a great deal of change lately, with a new shareholder, a new business strategy and a new name. We felt this was the right time to enter into a Prime Foundation Partnership.”

From product-centred to customer-centred

We used to focus on specific product lines, but have now set out to become a retail bank focusing on the customer rather than the product,” Guy explains. “We want to target our customers with the products that are relevant to them, taking into account their specific needs and what stage they’re at in their lives. This means considering our relationship with our customers in its entirety and preferably in the long term. For example, as a product-oriented bank with an American shareholder, we didn’t used to offer any mortgage loans ourselves, but nowadays we do, because these are exactly the kind of products that help forge a long-term relationship.” While the bank has already come a long way, Guy realises it still has some way to go. “Deciding to shift the focus from products to customers is one thing; implementing the transformation, i.e. adapting your business model and organisation, is a different matter.

Research into marketing and management accounting

This is where our researchers come into play. As the transition will impact on different parts of the bank’s organisation, both our accounting and marketing clusters will be involved. Professor Marion Debruyne will head the marketing research team while Professor Kristof Stouthuysen and his team will focus on management accounting aspects. They will collaborate closely with the business intelligence department at Beobank, as well as with the bank’s sales and marketing teams.

Customer lifetime profitability

One of the first questions our research will seek to answer is what customer centricity actually means for Beobank’s business model,” explains Marion. Kristof adds: “The shift from product to customer centricity implies a focus on customer lifetime profitability rather than short-term product profitability. Management accounting offers tools, such as customer lifetime valuation models, to quantify the profitability and future value of the relationship with a specific customer or customer segment.”

Where management accounting and marketing meet

Marion picks up on this point: “These models also enable you to optimise your marketing mix and to implement customer centricity at different touchpoints throughout the customer engagement lifecycle. Given the profitability and future value, you can then decide how much you want to spend on winning and retaining a certain customer, or you could use the information from the models to develop campaigns to positively influence customer behaviour so as to optimise customer lifetime profitability. This is a fine example of how management accounting and marketing tie into each other.” Kristof nods, adding: “And to help achieve customer centricity throughout the entire organisation, there are several performance measurement and incentive systems to be considered. This is also an area where we have useful expertise.


The plan is to first map existing best practices by examining the literature on customer intimacy, customer lifetime valuation techniques and performance measurement and incentive systems. Kristof: “We’ll benchmark Beobank against the relevant best practices and investigate which changes could still be implemented and how. We hope the research will yield not only actionable results but also interesting academic insights. One of the outcomes of the research programme will be a business case. As well as providing strategic answers to Beobank, it will be a valuable teaching tool for use with students.”

Visibility, networking and recruiting

For Guy, the establishment of a long-term partnership, providing visibility and networking opportunities, is at least as important as the research itself. “The Vlerick Centre for Financial Services also offers an interesting platform for exchanging knowledge and ideas with our sector peers. And having privileged access to Vlerick’s talent pool of graduates is definitely an added bonus. We believe this partnership is a win-win for both of us.

Beobank NV/SA is a Belgian retail bank, a subsidiary of the French Group Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe. Beobank has a network of 192 local branches committed to helping customers realise their personal goals. It offers flexible and innovative financial solutions for payments and savings, insurance, loans and investments. In delivering its products and services, Beobank remains true to its guiding values and the principles of responsibility and respect.