First step to financial health: talking about money in understandable language

A financially healthy life begins with talking about money. In doing so, language is very important. "If you don't understand what's being said, you can't move forward. I help people by translating advice in their own language." Process manager Siham El Fakihi was occasionally an interpreter when people needed help with their banking. Thanks to her Moroccan background, she speaks Arabic, Berber and French in addition to Dutch and English.

“I help people around me who cannot have proper conversations with the bank due to a language barrier. When I first started at Rabobank, I was an advisor at a local bank. The contact with customers for whom I was an interpreter was very direct. I translated for friends, family and people who knew how to find me through the grapevine. And colleagues also still sometimes asked me, if a client didn’t speak the language.”

“I progressed to Process Manager and improve customer processes within the bank. For example, when a customer calls to open a bank account. How do we make that process as easy as possible for our customers? How do we ensure that everyone understands what they have to do? That’s where language indirectly comes in again.”

From her new role as Process Manager, Siham looks at language differently than she used to when she only acted as an interpreter. We ask her 4 questions about the role of language in banking and what opportunities Siham sees for the future.

Do banks use difficult language?

Siham thinks for a moment before answering. “Yes, especially for people with lower language skills. But taking care of banking matters is not only difficult for this group. I get the same requests for help from people who have a good command of the language. That’s why I often explain banking matters in jip-and-jane language. Then everyone understands.”

Siham El Fakihi crossing the road

Does the bank have a responsibility to help people do this?

“Yes, the bank has a certain responsibility in that.” Siham explains: “Talking about money is difficult. But if you don’t understand at all what is being said, then you will never get anywhere. In that respect, a bank should help you. Especially a bank like Rabobank.”

“One of the themes of Rabobank’s mission is ‘financially healthier’. That starts with having an overview of your money matters. In the short term: what’s coming in, what am I spending, what are my reserves? In the longer term: what are my goals, do I have everything in view, what will my income look like in a few years’ time? Being able to talk about money matters, in a language you understand, is a first step towards that financially healthy life.”

What opportunities do you see to take this further within Rabobank?

“In my current role as Process Manager, I look for improvements in processes. I enjoy using my experience with translation in that area as well. For example, by thinking along about adjustments to the various websites and apps we have to help people with debts. What possibilities do we have there with language?”

Siham El Fakihi talking about financially healthy life

“At Rabobank, you can become a debt relief buddy and use the app fiKks to answer questions from people in debt. Unfortunately, these sites and apps are only available in Dutch. I want to do something about that. Think about how we can offer more languages. And perhaps also provide buddies who speak a certain language. That is why I work at Rabobank. The fact that I am given the opportunity to contribute to this.”

“Rabobank’s mission, to make society better together, appeals to me greatly. And especially the fact that you can put your own interpretation on it. I like tackling and organizing things and I like being involved in several things at once. The fact that you have room to do more than just your job suits me well.”

“I also think there are enough colleagues I can get excited about helping customers in their own language. But it’s important that you have an affinity for it. It has to suit you.” Siham continues with a big smile. “I learned from home that you help each other. That’s how I was brought up. But if I am an interpreter during a conversation, then that also gives me a lot of satisfaction. Because I was able to do something beautiful, something extra, for that client. I can still do that in my new role, with a little extra.”

I get the chance to offer something extra, that's why I work at Rabobank.
Siham El Fakihi

“At Rabobank, you can become a debt relief buddy and use the app fiKks to answer questions from people in debt. Unfortunately, these sites and apps are only available in Dutch. I want to do something about that. Think about how we can offer more languages. And perhaps also provide buddies who speak a certain language. That is why I work at Rabobank. The fact that I am given the opportunity to contribute to this.”

“Rabobank’s mission, to make society better together, appeals to me greatly. And especially the fact that you can put your own interpretation on it. I like tackling and organizing things and I like being involved in several things at once. The fact that you have room to do more than just your job suits me well.”

“I also think there are enough colleagues I can get excited about helping customers in their own language. But it’s important that you have an affinity for it. It has to suit you.” Siham continues with a big smile. “I learned from home that you help each other. That’s how I was brought up. But if I am an interpreter during a conversation, then that also gives me a lot of satisfaction. Because I was able to do something beautiful, something extra for that client. I can still do that in my new role, with a little extra.

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