“Buzzing on Setting Up Social Projects with Four Stakeholders”
Bas Douw, Financial Advice & Private Banking Manager at Rabobank UtrechtThis bank is full of people with a mission. They work hard to make the world a better place and really make a difference. Bas Douw (34) is one of those employees with a mission. He wants to enhance the financial self-reliance of Rabobank’s customers in Utrecht. One of his tasks is to coordinate the “money and debt” practical assignments at the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.
‘The HU runs a minor in “money and debt” to educate the debt relief advisers of the future. Students from various degree courses take this six-month minor to learn about debt issues. I provide practical assignments from Rabobank and supervise them. I get really energized by some of the ideas that students come up with. For example, the idea for an online magazine to help people open up and talk about debt issues.’
‘In my daily work, I coordinate a team of advisors who help our clients about how to manage their wealth to meet their personal goals. Before clients can do that, they need to have their day-to-day finances in order. But for some people in the Netherlands “wealth management” has a very different meaning: when you’re in debt, you struggle every single day with how to make ends meet. It’s important for me to help those people become more financially self-reliant. And it feels good to give something back to society. I can do that through my work at the HU by helping students learn and by taking part in projects with social relevance.’
Ashamed to be in dept
‘One student group recently conducted research into employees with debts. That sparked the idea to produce an online magazine on the topic. Many people are ashamed that they are in debt and won’t talk about it. Which in turn makes it difficult for the bank, the local government, and the support services to find them and offer help. The magazine is designed to help employers recognize that their staff could be in debt and show them where they can get support.’
‘Something amazing happened when the students gave their final presentation. They were presenting not just to representatives from the HU, but to people from the municipality of Utrecht and from McDonald’s Utrecht, who had commissioned the research. After the group had made their pitch for the online magazine, all the parties concerned looked at each other and responded with the same enthusiasm: Let’s support this! It was a fantastic experience. You get such a buzz from setting up a social project like this – with four different stakeholders. I hope that in future we can use these sorts of initiatives to help more people with debt issues.’