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The Netherlands: the financial niche player Back  
The Netherlands is extremely well positioned to benefit from globalisation of the financial sector.
Globalisation is likely to result in an iincreased clustering of knowledge and expertise of subsectors in the financial iindustry. Logically, over time a number of hubs will become more visible and recognised as the centre of expertise and intelligence in certain subsectors of the markets. The Netherlands is well positioned to play this hub role in the areas of retirement management (pensions, ALM, asset pooling and other areas concerning an ageing population), financial logistics and financial sustainability services.

The first ever stock market was established in Amsterdam and the sector has been developing ever since. Innovation and international orientation, combined with The Netherlands financial cluster’s ability to negotiate its way through the labyrinth that still characterises Europe, without stumbling over conflicting tax laws and legislation or cultural contrasts, is what sets The Netherlands apart from other financial centres.

Attracted by these and other unique characteristics, an increasing number of globally oriented professional and financial service providers are choosing to set up business in The Netherlands. Together they form a unique and richly diverse cluster which is adding value at all levels, more so than in most other European financial centres.

A competitive business climate
The best breeding ground for a sector that is sensitive to the vagaries of the economic cycle is a competitive and politically stable business climate. And that is precisely what the Netherlands provides. In the most recent list of top countries for business establishment, drawn up each year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Netherlands is in 5th place worldwide.
Transparent and reliable

Researchers praise in particular the high level of transparency and reliability of the political and economic system, the possibility to make agreements with the tax authorities in advance, the existence of an extensive network of international tax and legal treaties and the quality of supervision of reporting by financial institutions and companies.

Attractive property market
Another important aspect in Amsterdam’s and The Netherlands’ favour is that the costs of accommodation are relatively low, and that prestigious and affordable office locations are widely available.

Excellent connectivity
The financial services sector is highly dependent on the quality of transport and data connections, and The Netherlands offers excellent facilities.

Time and time again Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has been voted the best airport by business travellers and is a true European gateway, offering easy access to all the main European markets. In addition, there are the airports of Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Maastricht and high-speed trains connecting easily to places in Belgium, France, Germany and the UK.

Outstanding IT infrastructure
The Netherlands is the second most densely cabled country in the world and is way ahead in the field of data transport and information distribution. Thanks to the high penetration of fibre-optic connections, unlimited volumes of data can be sent and received real-time.

Solid financial cluster
Last year the financial cluster accounted for 7.2 per cent of the Netherlands’ GDP and provided work for 286,000 highly qualified employees. This made it the second most important sector in the Netherlands in terms of size and economic importance, after the business services sector.

Varied professional & financial services sector
The financial services sector is extremely varied. In addition to major international banks from Dutch origin, the Amsterdam Area alone has nearly 60 branches of foreign banks. The Netherlands is also home to more than one hundred national and international insurance companies and hundreds of companies active in the world of pensions and payment services. Encompassing this core is a layer of diverse professional service providers, each offering complementary knowledge, expertise and global networks. Practically all leading international accountancy and law firms, management consultancies and ICT companies have offices in The Netherlands, as does an extremely powerful network of creative businesses such as advertising and marketing agencies, architects and media firms.

Knowledge centre and tax hub
The Amsterdam Area alone has more than 400 head offices and an additional 1400 offices of international companies. Together these account for an enormous financial throughput, using The Netherlands above all as a financial knowledge centre and tax hub. Its role as a coordination centre, in particular for group financing and the management of major assets, has continued to grow during the past few years. More and more international companies and institutions seeking broad support for their pan-European activities are therefore moving to The Netherlands. This is part of the larger trend of globalisation of the financial sector, which is likely to result in increased clustering of knowledge and expertise throughout the subsectors of the financial industry.

Strong niches
As may be expected from a niche player, the financial sector based in The Netherlands excels particularly in specialist fields, such as:
• Private Equity
• Pensions & Retirement Services
• Holding companies
• Financial Logistics, Credit Insurance and Trade Financing
• Sustainable Investing and Financing
• High quality of life and people and continuous learning
The Netherlands not only offers a challenging business environment to a premier league of financial service providers, it is also a highly attractive region with a unique quality of life for visitors, professionals, expats and their families. The Netherlands is seen as an inspiring place to live and a very attractive place to find a qualified workforce.

In addition, the Dutch universities maintain close working relationships with each other and their international network, making it a true breeding ground for highly qualified university graduates.

Duisenberg School of Finance
In addition to this, the Duisenberg School of Finance will start with the first master programmes in September 2008.
This institution, named after the first president of the European Central Bank, trains university graduates for jobs within the financial sector that require high-quality knowledge.

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