New rules, new opportunities

Justine Sas, Senior Legal Counsel

‘The financial sector continually has to adapt to new laws and regulations. Especially in the EU. As Legal Counsel, I assess the applicability of new legislation so that my colleagues’ products remain compliant. It's one way of ensuring the bank remains rock-solidly within the law.’


‘One thing I love about my job is learning exactly how Rabobank works. After all, I can only explain the scope of regulatory legislation with a thorough understanding of how everything fits together. My task is clear: ensure the bank remains rock-solid. When I turn up with an armful of rules, my colleagues don’t exactly jump for joy. But they still give me a warm welcome. I’m like a messenger of the law, but one who wants to help and advise: how do you accommodate certain rules in your plans? What opportunities do they actually create? I guess I’m more like a messenger-plus.’

Fine-tuning and adjusting

‘When I used to practice law, I always did my best to answer my clients’ questions, but it was often hard to fully know the broader context and reasons behind those questions. At Rabobank it’s different. Here, I’m directly involved in the process of deciding how to deal with new regulations. It all starts with scoping: what exactly does Rabobank do, which rules govern these activities, and what do we need to do to comply with them? After new regulations have been implemented, my colleagues can always reach out to me with their questions. It’s easy to get confused when the new situation is still ambiguous, or if the rules don’t fit certain products. The real craftsmanship lies in getting the whole thing up and running smoothly. It’s a process of fine-tuning and adjustment that requires a lot of creativity. I truly enjoy my role as an adviser.’

All hands on deck

‘Last year, the implementation of MiFID II was a central event. A comprehensive package of EU legislation on financial markets affecting banking and investment firms like Rabobank. Anchoring the new legislation within the bank was a massive undertaking. These types of rules are imposed from outside, and even though they’re not exactly optional, we do our best to implement them as well as possible. Typical Rabobank. Another feature that sets us apart is our approach to big projects like the MiFID II roll-out. It’s not possible for one person to go to some private island and figure the whole thing out. In Legal, we work closely with a variety of colleagues from every corner of the organization. People from the dealing room, treasury specialists, project managers, and folks from Compliance & Risk too. It’s an extraordinary and enjoyable dynamic.’

Gigantic machines

‘MiFID II brought other challenges besides the technical content. Within Rabobank alone, dozens if not hundreds of people were involved in the project. It’s like all these gigantic machines just get switched on, with all manner of interests driving different components.  Getting everybody focused and making the whole thing a well-oiled machine is no easy task.  As Legal Counsel, it comes in handy to have project management skills and a healthy awareness of politics. I couldn’t be prouder that we managed to get everyone working in harmony, and before the roll-out date at that! I know that my efforts and those of my colleagues at Compliance & Risk were crucial to this success. What also helped was our shared focus: putting the customer’s interests first in everything we do. Awareness of this ideal is everywhere at Rabobank: Growing a better world together, it’s what unites us all within the bank.’

Opportunities and confidence

‘My team focuses on derivatives, repo and securities lending. We deal with a lot of international transactions, so we have regular consultations with fellow experts in New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and London. Our team has a real international vibe, which brings some great opportunities to be posted abroad. Just showing what you can do is the fastest route to getting to do cool stuff and be given responsibility. For me a good example was being seconded to our Managing Board. I got the chance to experience firsthand how it all goes down at the highest level of the bank. The fact that Rabobank offers such unique opportunities demonstrates the enormous confidence the bank puts in its employees.’