Stress is down since Andbank España and Luxembourg chose Diligent Boards™ to ease the burden
A team of bankers with more than 85 years’ combined experience make up Andbank Group, the entity formed from the 2001 merger between Banc Agrícol and Banca Reig. This global family banking group has a presence in 12 countries on two continents. Its companies provide seven banking services, six investment advisement companies, five asset management companies, three brokerage firms, one representation office and 39 local offices.
While the Andbank Group protects assets and creates value for its customers with its personal service and professional expertise, it expects the same from its vendors. This is what Eduardo Muela Rodriguez, Secretary of the Board, as well as members of the board at Andbank España and Andbank Luxembourg, were looking for from a digital board portal solution – value, personal service and expertise. According to Muela Rodriguez, he got all this and more when he proposed that Andbank should choose Diligent Boards™.
Muela Rodriguez had worked for 16 years as Company Secretary at other banks and financial institutions before joining Andbank España in 2014. The bank in Spain was still in its infancy, having opened only two years before. The eight-member Board of Directors would meet monthly, but it took two administrators four days to prepare, create, distribute and update the materials for each of these Board meetings. This, combined with the fact that the Bank wanted to achieve the highest security standards, made Muela Rodriguez realize that Andbank was in dire need of an online board portal solution.
“At Andbank España, everyone was using paper and sending their documents through e-mails,” said Muela Rodriguez of the situation he encountered when he first came on board. “A digital board portal hadn’t been contemplated yet. So I decided it was time to introduce the idea. I told the Board how important it was to have an online board portal solution, especially when exchanging secure information. I laid out other benefits as well, and once everyone agreed, I started my search for providers.”
Muela Rodriguez selected three vendors after first reading various websites. Then he sent an e-mail requesting more information. It took only one day before the first recipient answered – it was Diligent.
“Diligent was a logical choice. They contacted me first and quickly offered to meet me in person to give a demonstration of the board portal’s functions and usability; this made a huge difference since the other vendors could only converse via webinars. Of course, we looked at other variables as well. It was important that the board portal be easy to use and understandable for non-tech-savvy board members, which Diligent Boards is. But for me, there were two main reasons why we chose them over the other competitors – service and price.”
Diligent Boards has been used at Andbank España since February 2015. It was such a success that the bank introduced the board portal solution to its sister bank, Andbank Luxembourg, only five months later, bringing the total number of users to around 20, including three administrators.
When looking at the benefits since implementing the solution, both banks have reduced their paper costs and the preparation time it took to put their books together, from two persons working four days in advance down to one person completing the work in one day. The solution has saved them close to €25,000 in labor and fixed costs per year.
Yet another benefit is that the bank is now able to comply with the highest corporate governance standard of providing board documents at least five days in advance. Muela Rodriguez said that while this has saved time and money, which was great, he thought it was even better to see that the level of stress for everyone involved has been greatly reduced, which has raised productivity levels and encouraged better collaboration.
“I see many positive improvements since Diligent Boards has been implemented,” said Muela Rodriguez. “I like the fact that everything you need is available in seconds at the touch of your hand; it’s all in the same place and it’s easy to find meeting minutes and committee documents from, say, five months back. It’s good to have a historical record of everything the Board has accomplished. So I would say that our overall experience with Diligent Boards has been very positive and only continues to get better.”