As a cooperative bank were committed to our member clients 9 Coert Beerman: wv M countries to establish a cooperative structure, but once that exists, preparation and groundwork are vital to success. "I know that in Australia they are interested in developing such thinking around cliënt cooperatives, but we need to take into account that if we do it, it has to be well prepared, it has to be piloted in one region to see how it works, and there has to be a learning phase to establish what the impact would be at Group level." Coert Beerman notes that Rabobank has already shown its ability to successfully introducé and facilitate farmers' cooperatives. in different countries, although he believes running a financial cooperative is a different challenge. "It is rather complex, with history playing an important part in the checks and balances of the cooperative structure. However, I thinkthat it's possible through education and if there's the desire at the right levels." De Vries believes influence should remain at a national level. "For example, clients in Australia could have some influence on how the bank operates in Australia, but it makes no sense that they have any impact on what happens at Group level. It's also important to remember that a cooperative is built from its roots - that's the strength of the structure. But I think to make customer influence work abroad, you need to learn from the experiences we've had in the Netherlands, and learn from strong customer- centred organisations in other countries. In Australia, I think it would make sense to give customers the opportunity to decide where the bank's sponsorship money goes, for example, and then evaluate and show them the results. It took Rabobank in the Netherlands more than 100 years to reach this point, so we have to be patiënt when it comes to rolling the model out abroad.' More information: Jörg Decressin, (2008), Cooperative Banks in Europe: Origins, Developments, and Challenges, IMF. Speech held at the 3rd Convention of the European Association of Cooperative Banks in Brussels. Oliver Wyman (2008), Cooperative bank: customer champion. Research report done by a consultancy Urm. Vries de, Y.B. (2009), The European banking sector and the cooperative banks, Economie Research Department, Rabobank Nederland. Vries de, Y.B. (2009), The countervailing power of cooperative banks, in: of the Dutch National cooperative Councit, May 2009. W. (2007), Cooperative Banks in Europe-Policy issues, IMF working paper 2007. ISSUE 20 THE WORD

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