Making the bank visible in the local community

Hans van Hees, Financial Adviser at Personal Banking, Rabobank Dommelstreek

‘Rabobank Dommelstreek comprises three areas: Geldrop, Nuenen and, my own, Heeze-Leende. I am the financial adviser for Personal Banking, and I specialize in mortgages. A good 60 percent to 70 percent of my job consists of giving mortgage advice to customers. I dedicate the remainder to the bank's social projects and deal with sponsoring, marketing and communication with the aim of maintaining and improving the bank's position in the community.

Buying or renovating a house is thrilling, but it can also be pretty nerve-wracking. Getting to help people at such a milestone in their lives makes my job extremely gratifying. Equally, the hard times are also part of the experience. I also advise bereaved customers who have lost their spouse or partner. It’s often very emotional, but I am glad to be there for customers in difficult times and good. It creates a bond, and I value that a lot in my job.

Locally visible

‘When I first started at this local Rabobank a few years ago, I was “just another employee” for customers, but after a while you truly become the bank’s face—or one of its many faces. I do whatever I can to promote the bank, like getting involved in different local activities to increase the bank’s visibility and name recognition. On the one hand, it’s marketing: not so long ago our marketing team produced a LinkedIn campaign for a newbuild project nearby. It includes a picture of me with my colleague, we’re both wearing boots and holding shovels, out in the middle of a field where the houses are being built.

But on the other hand, we also do a lot of sponsoring. Like the Rabobank Club Fund Campaign, which helps support clubs and foundations. Members vote for their preferred club. The bank runs the campaign and organizes an annual awards ceremony. I get to present the checks to the winners and MC the event. It’s a lot of fun.’

Aging securely

‘Rabobank distinguishes itself from other banks by the extent of its social engagement. Our contribution to the local community is tangible. When the mission “Growing a better world together” was introduced, I thought that it was perhaps a bit ambitious. But when you stop to notice how many themes the mission is already addressing, like financial self-reliance and the local environment, you realize how much we are already achieving. We’re putting the idea into practice in concrete local projects. We do this by taking stock of whatever has struck a chord with the community and what it needs. To this end, we always talk to customers, but we also keep a finger on the pulse in regular meetings with members of the bank. They act as our scouts in the field.

A brainstorming session we had last year revealed that we needed to pay closer attention to the seniors in our customer base, particularly where security was concerned. So we organized a couple of events under the flag of “Aging Securely.” A notary and representatives of the police got involved too. A police officer shared tips about safety around the house and the notary provided information about the last will and testament. A colleague and I gave a presentation about secure Internet banking. The event had a huge turnout. It was so successful that other Rabobanks in the Netherlands have been following our example.’

Sense of responsibility

‘Another Rabobank strength that I’m proud of is our focus on sustainability. These days, we always look at how we can help mortgage customers invest in a more sustainable home. I bring information about this to my meetings. If you’re buying a new home, it’s usually a good idea to include sustainability improvements right from the start.

Doing this has made me more aware of how important it is to live and work sustainably. At Rabobank we are encouraged to learn as much as we can about this topic so that we can advise our customers with expertise and conviction. I realized how responsible I feel for doing it right. It’s not a sales pitch, I genuinely believe in it. And that’s important, otherwise I can’t convince anyone.’