Rabobank is a financial services provider
Financial services
Financial services refer to services provided by the finance industry. The finance industry encompasses a broad range of organizations that deal with the management of money. Among these organizations are credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, consumer finance companies,...

 with offices worldwide. Their main location is in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. They are a global leader in Food and Agri financing and in sustainability-oriented banking. The group comprises 141 independent local Dutch Rabobanks, a central organization (Rabobank Nederland), and a large number of specialized international offices and subsidiaries
A subsidiary company, subsidiary, or daughter company is a company that is completely or partly owned and wholly controlled by another company that owns more than half of the subsidiary's stock. The subsidiary can be a company, corporation, or limited liability company. In some cases it is a...

. Food & Agribusiness
In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in food production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales....

 is the prime international focus of the Rabobank Group.

In terms of Tier I capital, the organisation is among the top 30 largest financial institutions in the world. Total assets amount to EUR 665 billion and a net profit of EUR 1.9 billion (2011-I). Global Finance currently ranks Rabobank 6th in its survey of “the world’s safest banks”.


Rooted in agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, Rabobank is set up as a federation of local credit union
Credit union
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members...

s, which offer services to the local markets. The central organisation is the daughter organisation of the local branches, rather than the parent organisation, as is the case with most banks.

The bank is rooted in the ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen was a German mayor and cooperative pioneer. Several credit union systems and cooperative banks have been named after Raiffeisen, who pioneered rural credit unions.- Life :...

, the founder of the cooperative movement of credit unions who in 1864 created the first farmers' bank in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. Being a countryside mayor he was confronted with the abject poverty of the farmers and their families. He tried to alleviate this need through a variety of charitable activities. He soon realised, however, that self-reliance
Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy...

 had more potential in the long run than charitable aid
Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.- Etymology :The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".Originally in Latin the word caritas meant...

. He therefore converted his charitable foundations into a farmers' bank in 1864. In doing so he created the Darlehnskassen-Verein, it collected the savings of the countryside dwellers and provided the enterprising but needy farmers with loans.

This model found a lot of interest in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 at the end of the 19th century. One of the first of Raiffeisen's followers was father Gerlacus van den Elsen who stood at the basis of a number of local farmers' banks in the south of the Netherlands. The model caught on being championed by the clergy and the countryside elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

s. The mission of the farmers' lending banks was an idealistic one but they always operated using strict business principles. Controversially, a founding principle of Rabobank's co-operative style was to co-operate in the interests of "warding off the Shylock
Shylock is a fictional character in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.-In the play:In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who lends money to his Christian rival, Antonio, setting the security at a pound of Antonio's flesh...

". The cooperative bank model assured a tight bond between invested capital and the community.

The bank's traditional headquarters are Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 and Eindhoven. In 1898 two cooperative bank conglomerates were formed:
  • Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Bank in Utrecht
  • Coöperatieve Centrale Boerenleenbank in Eindhoven

The first was formed as a cooperation of 6 local banks and the latter as a cooperation of 22 local banks. These two existed side by side for three quarters of a century despite their obvious similarities. The reasons for this owed in part to legal disagreements. The most important difference, however, was cultural. The Eindhoven based Boerenleenbank had a decidedly Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 signature while the Raiffeisen-Bank had a Protestant
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 background. In the past the Netherlands underwent a process of pillarisation
Pillarisation is a term used to describe the politico-denominational segregation of Dutch and Belgian society. These societies were "vertically" divided into several segments or "pillars" according to different religions or ideologies.These pillars all had their own social institutions: their own...

 or verzuiling, which in practice meant that members of different religious congregations and political movements essentially lived side by side each other without contact between the two. The religious backgrounds found their way to the organisational structure as well; the Eindhoven organisation stressed a highly centralised structure while the Utrecht organisation promoted local autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...


By 1940 the two organisations cooperated with each other, albeit on a limited scale. Three major developments caused a further tightening of the bonds between the two:
  • Increasing number of offices - leading to increased local competition
  • A gradual fading of the confessional differences between the two
  • An increasing demand for capital in the Dutch industry, which in turn led to higher concentration
    Market concentration
    In economics, market concentration is a function of the number of firms and their respective shares of the total production in a market...

     in the banking business

In 1972 the two organisation merged. The name Rabobank is a portmanteau of Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank. The organisation chose Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 to be its statutory headquarter due to the historical neutrality in relation to the founding organisations. As of 1980 the central organisation is referred to as Rabobank Nederland.

Starting in 1980 Rabobank expanded its international activities as part of its mission of financing global agriculture. In 1994 it purchased Primary Industry Bank of Australia (PIBA) which had operations in Australia and New Zealand, renaming it Rabobank Australia Limited in 2003. In 1997 it purchased New Zealand based Wrightson Farmers Finance Limited and renamed it Rabobank New Zealand in 1999. Rabobank became a significant lender to the rural sector in the New Zealand with this purchase and used this as a base to expand its lending business further.

Rabo purchased Lend Lease Agro Business, an Australian based company, in 2003.

In 2006 it launched a new internet only savings bank called RaboPlus. This was launched first in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 under the name of RaboDirect, and then as RaboPlus in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and two years later in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The advertising campaigns used to promote the savings business in Ireland and New Zealand raised the profile of Rabobank generally in those countries resulting in not only an increase in savings business but also its lending businesses. In 2010 Rabo decided to use same name in all four countries for the savings bank and replaced RaboPlus with RaboDirect in all these countries.

Rabobank completed the acquisition of Mid-State Bank & Trust on May 1, 2007, which allows Rabo to expand its services to the Central Coast region of California
Central Coast of California
The Central Coast is an area of California, United States, roughly spanning the area between the Monterey Bay and Point Conception. It extends through Santa Cruz County, San Benito County, Monterey County, San Luis Obispo County, and Santa Barbara County...

. In 2010, it also acquired Pacific State Bank, expanding into the Central Valley of California.


Right from the start the cooperative banks prospered. They managed to perform the key tasks of a banking organisation i.e. bringing excess capital and capital shortages together. These moneylenders stood close to the farmers and were better in judging the creditworthiness of individual farmers than the city banks. This allowed the banks to offer lower interest rates. The local banks were self-governed by members of the cooperation. They adhered to the principle of non-remunerated management and elected the board and the commissioners from among themselves. Only the cashier
Cashier is an occupation focused on the handling of cash money.- Retail :In a shop, a cashier is a person who scans the goods through a machine called a cash register that the consumer wishes to purchase at the retail store. After all of the goods have been scanned, the cashier then collects...

 received a small salary. This has of course changed by now, but even as recently as in late 1950s the local bank office was nothing more than the cashier's living room, he generally performed his administrative duties besides another regular job. Much later, in the 1960s the most local banks moved into new and modern offices that reflected their new-found professionalism. The position cashier was replaced by a local bank director. Since 1998 the local bank director is an appointed professional banker and he presides over a board of directors which is chosen from among the members.

Local presence and local autonomy were always important but this hasn't stopped a wave of concentration of the local banks. The major rationale behind this was the need to attain economies of scale in the fields of payments, transaction, processing, staff and of course capital. Increasing customer demand for standardized and widely available products also played a significant part in this development. Currently the motto is:

As large as is necessary, as small as possible.

this of course applies to the size of the local bank offices.

Traditionally the bank served mostly farmers and small businesses. Since the introduction of consumer salary accounts in the 1960s the number of retail clients grew exponentially. This has led to Rabobank being a prominent player in the field of savings accounts, checking accounts and mortgages in the Netherlands.

Rabobank has been awarded the Triple A (AAA) credit status by two of the three major ratings agencies, making it the only privately owned bank in the world with such a status. Due to a new rating methodology in November 2011 by ratings agency Standard & Poor, the credit status is downgraded from AAA to double A (AA).

Rabobank Group

The Rabobank Group consists of a network of local banks, Rabobank Nederland and several daughter organisations. Formally the local Rabobanks are the mother organisation of Rabobank Nederland, their central organisation. The local banks are facilitated by Rabobank Nederland to serve their customers and not the other way around as is often the case with traditional banking organisations. Employees of the group do not routinely speak of a headquarters but prefer to speak of Rabobank Nederland, which is their daughter organisation.

The central organisation does occasionally overrule the autonomy of the local bank organisations. In accordance with Dutch regulations in the field of credit and financial services Rabobank Nederland oversees that the local banks maintain a required level of prudency and professionalism while selling financial products. This has grown to be especially important in view of recent developments and international standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Sarbanes-Oxley Act
The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 , also known as the 'Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act' and 'Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act' and commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, Sarbox or SOX, is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002, which...

, Basel II
Basel II
Basel II is the second of the Basel Accords, which are recommendations on banking laws and regulations issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision...

 and IFRS
International Financial Reporting Standards
International Financial Reporting Standards are principles-based standards, interpretations and the framework adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board ....

. This leads to an interesting and rather unusual phenomenon within international business: the mother companies and the much larger daughter are essentially forced to coexist together in order to function properly. This has led to a very ambivalent relationship between the two over the years.

At the time of the merger there were five management instruments within Rabobank Nederland:
  1. Algemene Vergadering - general assembly. The boards of all local banks within the cooperation were represented here.
  2. De Centrale Kringvergadering - advisoryboard manned by representatives of clusters of local banks.
  3. De Hoofddirectie - general management. Theoretically they were an autonomous management organ, but in practice, they had to pay 'serious consideration' to what the 4th organ; Raad van Beheer; thought about the course of action for the organisation.
  4. Raad van Beheer - management council. An independent advisory council whose chairman also attended the meetings of De Hoofddirectie.
  5. Raad van Toezicht - supervisory board.

In 2002 this rather cumbersome structure was simplified. The Raad van Beheer was disbanded. De Hoofddirectie received an integral authority over the banking business. It was also renamed to Raad van Bestuur or board of directors
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

. They have an added task compared to a traditional board i.e. they are expected to look out for the specific interests of the members (local banks and their certificate holders). The Raad van Toezicht was renamed to county commission
County commission
A county commission is a group of elected officials charged with administering the county government in local government in some states of the United States. County commissions are usually made up of three or more individuals...

 and now held an independent supervisory role. The chairman of this board also presides over the Centrale Kringvergadering. The latter is the most distinguishing organ as compared to other financial institutions in the Netherlands and abroad.

Market Position

Rabobank is traditionally a farmers' bank and it still holds an 85%-90% market share in the agrarian sector in the Netherlands. Throughout the years, the company has also started targeting small and medium sized companies. By the mid 1970s the market share in this sector reached some 30% and currently amounts to approximately 40%. In 1987, an important milestone was reached; the total outstanding loans in sectors other than agriculture exceeded those in the agricultural sector for the first time. By 2005 the agricultural credits amounted to some 8% of total outstanding credit.

Rabobank also holds some 40% of the total outstanding sums on Dutch savings accounts and they account for approximately 30% of all private consumer mortgages in the Netherlands.

The Rabobank Group currently consists of the following divisions:
  • Rabobank Nederland - the facilitary and staff organisation that serves the local banks. It currently performs the following core activities:
    • Market (staff) support for the domestic retail banking
      Retail banking
      Retail banking is banking in which banking institutions execute transactions directly with consumers, rather than corporations or other banks. Services offered include: savings and transactional accounts, mortgages, personal loans, debit cards, credit cards, and so forth.-Types of...

    • Group functions i.e. ICT, Legal and other facilitary departments
    • Wholesale banking and international rural and retail banking
  • Local Banks - Approximately 141 independent and cooperative local banks in the Netherlands
  • Rabo International - Rabobank's investment banking wing
  • Rabo Vastgoed Groep - Project developer, real estate
  • Robeco
    Robeco is a Dutch asset management firm founded in 1929 as the Rotterdamsch Beleggings Consortium . By year end 2009, the company had over € 130 billion of assets under management. It was acquired in 2001 by the Rabobank Groep.Robeco offers assets management services to both institutional and...

     - Investment management
    Investment management
    Investment management is the professional management of various securities and assets in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of the investors...

  • De Lage Landen - Vendor finance
    Vendor finance
    Vendor finance is a form of lending in which a company lends money to be used by the borrower to buy the vendor's products or property. Vendor finance is usually in the form of deferred loans from, or shares subscribed by, the vendor. The vendor often takes shares in the borrowing company...

    , leasing and trade finance
  • Schretlen & Co - Asset management, private banking
    Private banking
    Private banking is banking, investment and other financial services provided by banks to private individuals investing sizable assets. The term "private" refers to the customer service being rendered on a more personal basis than in mass-market retail banking, usually via dedicated bank advisers...

  • Obvion - mortgage
    Mortgage loan
    A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a mortgage note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan...

  • FGH Bank - Dutch real estate
    Real estate
    In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

  • ACCBank
    ACCBank plc is a commercial bank in Ireland that focuses on agriculture and SME lending. The bank has its origins in the Agricultural Credit Corporation set up in 1927 in the Irish Free State to finance agriculture, the bank was successful and lead to the creation of the Industrial Credit Company...

     - Agricultural Credit Corporation, Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

  • Bank BGZ - Retail bank, Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Rabobank N.A. - California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    -based financial services corporation, formerly VIB corp.
  • Rabo Mobiel, a mobile virtual network operator
    Mobile virtual network operator
    A mobile virtual network operator is a company that provides mobile phone services but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum, nor does it necessarily have all of the infrastructure required to provide mobile telephone service...

     in the Netherlands.
  • Rabo Development, with advisory services and minority participations in various international markets, including: Tanzania
    The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

    , Zambia
    Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

    , Rwanda
    Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

    , Mozambique
    Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

    , China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    , Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

     and Paraguay
    Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...



RaboDirect, formerly RaboPlus in some locations is the brand name for online-only services offered by Rabobank. RaboDirect operates in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, offering savings account
Savings account
Savings accounts are accounts maintained by retail financial institutions that pay interest but cannot be used directly as money . These accounts let customers set aside a portion of their liquid assets while earning a monetary return...

s, term deposits and managed funds.


RaboDirect Ireland is an online bank. RaboDirect is part of the Rabobank Group.

In 2009, RaboDirect ran the Life's more interesting when you tell the truth marketing campaign that included TV commercials which featured staff confessing truths about themselves, and a microsite
A microsite is an Internet web design term referring to an individual web page or a small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discreet entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity...

 called Truthbank where customers could "confess" their own truths.

RaboDirect is also the current sponsor of rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

's Celtic League
Celtic League (rugby union)
The Celtic League is an annual rugby union competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales....

, featuring teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The deal, announced in June 2011, will run for four seasons, during which time the league will be known as the RaboDirect Pro12.

New Zealand

RaboDirect, originally known as RaboPlus, was launched in Feb 2006 and is the only bank in New Zealand whose parent company is rated Triple A by Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's is a United States-based financial services company. It is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. It is well known for its stock-market indices, the US-based S&P 500, the Australian S&P/ASX 200, the Canadian...

. All money deposited with RaboDirect is re-invested back into the New Zealand food and agriculture sector.

The bank originally advertised to customers as "Your significant other bank". By Aug 2006, six months after its launch, it had gathered over $500 million in deposits. In 2010, this figure stands at over $2.2 billion.

In July 2010 the bank was rebranded as RaboDirect to bring it in line with other countries where Rabo operated such services. This was followed by a new advertising campaign, using the slogan “It pays to focus”, and highlighting RaboDirect’s links with New Zealand agribusiness, its focus on savings and investments as well as Rabobank’s origins, and their focus on online security.


On 23 May 2007, Rabobank opened a RaboPlus Internet bank in Australia. On 20 May 2010, the services were rebranded to RaboDirect. RaboDirect are the major partner of the Melbourne Rebels
Melbourne Rebels
The Melbourne Rebels are a professional rugby union team based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. They made their debut in SANZAR's Super Rugby tournament in 2011. They are the first privately owned professional rugby union team in Australia...

 Super Rugby side.

External links

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