Trade Association Update

Rabo AgriFinance – a conservative path to its clients’ success

RaboAgriFinancelogoRabo AgriFinance has a long history of serving farmers in the United States. Its parent company, Rabobank, has financed agricultural real estate for more than 100 years. Today, Rabo AgriFinance offers a full range of lending products, crop insurance and more to its clients.

The Harvester first talked to Eric Bonnett, now regional vice president of Rabo AgriFinance in 2008. He remains in the Sarasota office, but much else has changed.

“We’ve made real progress in the Southeast,” Bonnett said. “At that time, we were a three-person shop here in Sarasota. It was me as relationship manager, David Mathis as our analyst and Duane Mathis as our crop insurance marketing manager,” he said. The company has hired two more relationship managers who will have responsibility for the area south of Gainesville, as well as another analyst and a relationship support assistant.

“So we now have seven people covering Florida, and our Sarasota office is responsible for clients in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the southern half of Virginia,” he said.

Also in the Southeast, Rabo AgriFinance has established a three-person office in Thomasville, Ga., and two more in Greenville and Fayetteville, N.C., which Bonnett is working on staffing.

It’s been a great five years, and we are looking forward to helping Southeast agricultural producers in the years to come.

Conservative practices are key to success

Rabo AgriFinance has also seen the economic climate change drastically since 2008. It has been able to thrive in a troublesome environment because it did not rush in and change its loan criteria when other institutions reacted more quickly to adverse conditions.

“We’re conservative. We always have been,” said Bonnett. “That allows us to present a consistent message to the market through all of this market volatility.”

Bonnett says that  the future growth plan for Rabo AgriFinance is to “aggressively seek new opportunities to establish relationships with the agriculture community in the form of real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment loans, treasury management services, crop insurance and global financial market services, which, to the Florida client, focuses on hedging interest rate risk.”

Focus on employee success

An aspect of Rabo AgriFinance that stands out is its focus on team members’ career paths. “For example, we offer a defined career track for our analysts,” he said. “In banking, very often analysts ultimately want to be relationship managers. We create two clear career paths. The analyst is a very important part of our business, and so although we’re glad to facilitate a path to relationship manager if that is where a person wants to go, we make it clear that an analyst doesn’t have to become a relationship manager in order to achieve his or her income and career goals,” Bonnett said.

Adam Trott

Rabo AgriFinance is proud to have a member of FFVA's Emerging Leader Development Program, Adam Trott, as an employee.

One of the many team members Bonnett is glad to have aboard is Adam Trott, who is in the first class of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program, which helps equip potential leaders in Florida agriculture with the knowledge to take the industry into the future.

“We’re really glad to have Adam. He was a new hire for us last August,” Bonnett said. “We worked together at our former employer, and he is now a relationship analyst for Rabo AgriFinance, overseeing the loan underwriting process.”

One final piece of the Rabo AgriFinance picture that Bonnett feels strongly about is the company’s access to global research. A group within Rabobank, the Food and Agribusiness Research team, publishes reports on contemporary issues in agriculture exclusively for clients of Rabobank and Rabo AgriFinance. “We have several new reports out that deal with the run-up in agricultural real estate values, the future of the global food supply and more,” he said.

Learn more via Rabo AgriFinance’s website  or call Eric Bonnett at (941) 907-8224. The Sarasota office is at 6704 Professional Parkway West.

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