Ifirmly believe that eaucatim international employees starts from having a strong belief in the cooperatives iaeas COVER STORY g Bert Mertens: i r Today's cooperative Rabobank has a long and proud cooperative history that stretches back more than 100 years. The aim of the original cooperative banks that merged to form today's Rabobank was to provide financing and insurance to small farmers, who at that time had limited access to credit, According to Bert Mertens, Head of the Cooperative and Administrative Affairs Division, although Rabobank's cooperative values are clear and straightforward, they are sometimes forgotten. "Rabobank was founded by people who wanted the bank to serve them, although over time that purpose has perhaps been forgotten. However, it's important to remember that the bank has two simple purposes: the first is to serve the interests of its customers, and the second is to serve the collective interest of customers and members. If we look back at the essence of the savings and credit cooperative, we see that the spirit of cooperation existed at all levels in local society. So if one customer had a surplus of savings, they were prepared to lend those excess funds to customers who needed credit. Subsequently, the local community ensured that the loans were repaid. This social control and intricate knowledge and understanding of the local situation reduced the information asymmetry between the borrower and the lender." Clearly, today's banking sector and the market it has to serve is far more complex, diverse and international than the model developed more than a century ago. And according to Coert Beerman, CEO Rabobank Rotterdam, the market nowadays is much more pragmatic and primarily driven by the need to find the best product from the best supplier at the right time. "We see that the public sector is rewarding the strategy line that Rabobank is following and - other things being equal - private companies are increasingly doing so as well. The latter holds especially true for innovative companies active in sustainable business, where good business practices and customer loyalty are rewarded." "What hasn't changed though are the needs of customers and their appetite for a trustworthy, long-term relationship with their bank," says Bert Mertens. This comes from the fact that if people trust some of their resources to an organisation, or have loans or credit with the organisation and are dependent on its continuity, then the clients want assurance that they can rely on this organisation at all times. A bank should always be a safe and reliable organisation, something that is ensured by our cooperative structure and embedded in our cooperative values. According to Bouke de Vries, senior economist at Rabobank's Economie Research Department, the cooperative model used by Rabobank is based on three main pillars: proximity to customers; on providing customer value; and on a governance structure where members have real influence on the decisions made within the bank. 'Today, in the midst of the credit crisis, a lot of things have gone wrong," he says. "A lot of trust in the fïnancial sector has gone, and the cooperative model is able to help regain that trust. The cooperative structure also allows the bank to have a conversation with its customers and members, and ask: Z ISSUE 20 THE WORD

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

blad 'RI The Word / The Word' (EN) | 2009 | | pagina 12