Holding up a mirror to the entrepreneur
Sander van Norren - Head of Special Asset Management
"When our clients in the SME segment go through a difficult financial period, due to market developments, organisational problems or a combination of factors, they come to us. For example, when the turnover suddenly drops due to the bankruptcy of a large customer. It is then our goal to create a new perspective together with the customer".
“Ultimately, Special Asset Management is the department where entrepreneurs end up when they no longer find a way out of their financial problems. Of course, we at Rabobank prefer to avoid that. For example, we regularly think along with account managers about clients, precisely in order to stay ahead of those financial problems. We then provide tips on how customers can take early action to turn the tide. Although entrepreneurs are often so involved in their own business that they sometimes only admit to themselves at the very last moment that other measures are needed. That is also our first step: helping them gain insight. Then the solutions are devised and together we look at how time can be bridged financially”.
Direct effects of the coronacrisis
“The coronacrisis of course has an impact on clients who were already assisted by Bijzonder Beheer before the crisis. One of these customers is an international transport company that saw up to 75% of its turnover disappear within a week due to lockdowns in the countries around us. The entrepreneur himself shifted quickly and came up with a well-substantiated problem analysis. Within a few days, we were able to arrange a postponement of his repayments and solve his liquidity problem. Thanks to our colleague who knew the sector and the customer’s situation well and was able to switch very quickly”.
“At the other end of the spectrum, we had a medical device customer in demand for a major funding expansion. Something we don’t see very often in Special Asset Management, of course. But here, too, the right expertise was quickly called in and, together with a deal team, financing was set up within a week. This enabled the company to continue to supply its products to national and international hospitals”.
“In times of crisis, my staff’s hearts start beating faster, so to speak, because that’ s when they can really add value. Fortunately, that results in success stories, but of course we also experience distressing cases. Where the message for the entrepreneur does not contain good news. This emotional side should not be underestimated; in many cases you literally talk about the life’s work of an entrepreneur, which sometimes makes the conversations very intense. An empathic and analytical ability is therefore necessary in this job, because you have a great responsibility. You have to be able to deal with this. Because of the speed with which decisions have to be made, we often have a limited set of information at our disposal, so you have to be able and daring to make choices. This makes the job exciting and fun”.
A healthy business
“Special Asset Management is distributed all over the country. It’s a club of a few hundred people. We work closely together with the account managers, because it is the intention that we are only temporarily involved with these clients. The goal is to get the customer back to account management in good health as soon as possible. So there is mutual contact about the status of and agreements with the client”.
“As an employee of Special Asset Management, you generally have your own portfolio. The work itself may be somewhat solitary, which is why we organise events in order to learn from each other. From the case-studies, the different clients and how to deal with them. We also share successes on a weekly basis: clients who are financially back on the road and no longer need our guidance. We also look at what others can learn from this.”
Profit as a tool
“Working for a cooperative where profit is not a goal in itself gives me extra motivation. Profit is a means to help more customers achieve their ambitions. We don’t work for shareholder value. So we can use it to make a substantial contribution to the welfare and prosperity of the Netherlands and to feeding the world in a sustainable way”.
“Our main goal at Special Asset Management is to offer a new perspective to the customer. So they can focus on their future again. With a restored business, or due to business closure with a different interpretation. Because also by breaking up in a good way, you offer perspective again. The fact that we are allowed to do our part makes me feel good”.