Bank manager Neil Dobbin – widely credited with rapidly building Rabobank into one of Australia’s top farm sector lenders and finance managers – is taking his know-how to the US. THE bank manager widely credited with rapidly building Rabobank into one of Australia’s top farm sector lenders and finance managers is taking his know-how to the US.
Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Group country banking division head Neil Dobbin has taken over as chief executive of Rabobank’s United States agri banking business, Rabo Agri Finance (RAF).
His experience, which includes 25 years with Rabobank in Australia and NZ and its predecessor, the Primary Industry Bank of Australia (PIBA), has already seen him sitting on Rabo’s advisory board in the US for the past two years.
The local business Mr Dobbin was instrumental in developing, originally as PIBA’s NSW State manager, has grown into the leading trans-Tasman food and agri bank according to Rabobank’s Australia and NZ chief executive officer Thos Gieskes.
Mr Gieskes said Neil Dobbin was widely considered “the father of country banking” in the two countries.
The Australian country banking model largely engineered by him had since been adopted for Rabobank’s developing agricultural banking operations around the world, and has been copied by other banks back at home.
His overseas move follows a number of other young guns from Rabo’s Australian network lured to the US recent years – including former Queensland and Northern Territory manager, Justin Harrison, who moved to St Louis last year in an executive business development role.
Former food and agri research heads in Australia, Tim Hunt, Bill Cordingley and Deborah Perkins, also hold senior positions across the US, with Ms Perkins the Dallas operations managing director.
Mr Dobbin, a Hawkesbury Agricultural College graduate who trained as a rural property valuer, joined PIBA in 1987 as its NSW lending officer moving from Parkes where he worked the State Bank of NSW.
Later as State manager, he began decentralising the bank’s lending and advisory activities outside its Sydney head office, starting at Dubbo, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth, created the blueprint for Rabobank’s country operations growth.
The move coincided with Australia’s big four lenders controversially scaling back many rural branch operations.
PIBA, initially established by the federal government to promote long term lending to the seasonally volatile farm sector, shared similar banking philosophies the co-operative-owned Rabobank, which acquired the Australian operation in 1994 from Western Australia’s Rural and Industries Bank.
Prior to the PIBA purchase Rabobank had only existed in Australia for just four years with a single office in Sydney.
The bank now has 93 branches across Australia and NZ.
Dutch-based Rabobank group executive board member Berry Marttin said Mr Dobbin’s stewardship of Rabobank’s country banking operations in both countries had lifted the Dutch-based bank to the lead as a food and agribusiness lender in the Asia-Pacific region.
“With the United States such an important future growth market for Rabobank, we’re delighted Neil is transferring his very considerable skills, expertise and experience in agricultural banking to RAF to assist its development.”
Headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, Rabo Agri Finance is one of the largest agricultural lenders in America, although not as big as the Australian and NZ business.
Mr Dobbin said the US promised to be an exciting sector for Rabo’s growing global footprint, given that country’s substantial food bowl and farmer population totalling two million.
Mr Dobbin’s country banking group executive role will be taken over jointly by Peter Knoblanche in Australia and NZ’s Ben Russell.
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