Team overview: Rabobank legal team
Rabobank legal team (L-R): Ingrid Duncan, Suzanne Mace, Christopher Norrish and Samantha Roche

The Rabobank legal team has been recognised for its effectiveness and innovation. How does your team operate within a global business framework while maintaining strong local ties? 

Like any organisation with an overseas shareholder, the challenge is to balance shareholder and overseas regulator expectations with local regulation and expectations. This is not necessarily a negative thing. We have a supportive Shareholder and Board, who trust the team here in New Zealand to get on and get things done.  

Rabobank’s strength is its relationship management with its clients. The Rabobank Legal team adopts the same approach by ensuring we understand the Rabobank business inside and out, and to meet regularly with all areas of the business to know exactly what is on their radar and the challenges they face.  

Also being based in Hamilton, it is easy to visit our rural clients and we have made a couple of visits to clients on-farm to gain an understanding of their business and the challenges they face. Sometimes the clients are a bit taken aback when the relationship manager turns up with someone from the Legal team! 

With the introduction of innovative products like Carbon Loans, how does the legal team address and mitigate potential risks? 

With such a small team, we need to be GPs not cardiologists. So while helping the business with the development of new products and services is exciting and a great learning experience, we are smart enough to know when to rely on our external counsel for their expertise.  

Which challenges stand out most for the team, and what approaches are you adopting to address them? 

Dealing with the amount of regulatory change in the financial services space is always a challenge for a small in-house team, but we share the load across the team and also collaborate where we can with our business SMEs. 

In light of the ever-changing financial landscape, are there any upcoming tech innovations the team is considering? 

Because we are a small team and budgets are tight (and ever decreasing), we know we need to work smarter with the resources we have. This means using the basics like SharePoint in a way that is useful and user-friendly to the team to enable us to report to our stakeholders. 

While you can have all the flash tech to help with time recording and reporting to prove your team’s worth to the business, nothing beats having a coffee with your major stakeholders to get an update on their business unit, the issues they face and letting them know where Legal can add value. In-person relationship management with our stakeholders is an absolute key to how the Rabobank Legal team operates.  

We were really humbled by the feedback we received from the business when we were nominated for the ILANZ Small In-House Team of the Year award.