In our branches, lives are planned and futures are mapped out. And so we want Argenta branches to be close to our customers, accessible and approachable. We prefer dedicated agents to anonymous chatbots. Peace of mind rather than commotion.
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Argenta has an extensive branch network with 415 outlets in Belgium. This is slightly fewer than in 2020, following the merging of a handful of relatively small branches with larger branches in the same area. These larger branches are able to offer the customer an even more specialised service. Argenta expects this trend to continue in the years to come.
At the end of 2021, Flanders had 379 Argenta branches. There were also 27 branches in Wallonia and 9 in the Brussels-Capital Region. 400 of these branches are managed by 363 branch managers and their 1,107 staff members. In addition, Argenta itself manages 15 branches with 75 employees, 22 of whom are branch managers in training. The Argenta branch managers and their employees work exclusively for Argenta. This means they offer only products from Argenta and those of Argenta-selected partners.
A locally anchored branch network is central to Argenta's value proposition. Argenta continues to focus strongly on proximity and human contact, combined with digital support for simple matters. The offices act as a showcase for Argenta's corporate values: closeness to customers, simple, price-conscious and long-term thinking, with the branch managers as trusted financial partners. The offices provide personal advice at the moments that matter to our customers. In this way the Argenta customer always has a personal contact point.
Best Branch Network Award
Argenta won the Bank Award 'Best Branch Network 2021'. We are proud of that. This award reflects the efforts of the whole of Argenta, but above all of our branches and their employees, who give the best of themselves every day to help, inform and provide tailor-made advice to our customers.
Argenta strives for long-term relationships with its branch managers. No fewer than 38 anniversaries were honoured in 2021. These branch managers have represented the Argenta brand for 10, 15, 25, 30 or 35 years and have built up loyal customer bases. There are also many family successions within Argenta. 69 branch managers are 2nd generation, and 4 Branch managers are 3rd generation office managers in the same family.
In 2021, 18 new branch managers started work at Argenta. Argenta recruits its branch managers with great care. Their sharing of Argenta's values and standards is a crucial element in the recruitment process. Of course, candidates are also carefully assessed on their competences, knowledge and experience. Every new branch manager is given a training programme with attention to personal, technical and job-specific development.
To support branch managers and their teams in their advisory roles, Argenta provides a wide range of training and coaching. In the past year, Argenta has focused on the development of hybrid forms of learning to enable knowledge development to take place optimally and efficiently. In this way, interactive knowledge and experience sharing between relationship managers is supplemented with digital learning platforms for banking and insurance expertise as well as soft skills.
Cooperation & dialogue with the branch network
Argenta believes that active cooperation and dialogue with the branch network contributes to continuously improving the customer experience. Via structural advisory and consultation bodies, made up of branch managers and head office employees, Argenta works on areas for improvement requested both by the branch network and head office. The Operational Consultation Body focuses on operational processes, communication and systems.
The Sales Consultation Body focuses on topics that stimulate commercial operations: sales processes, new and current products, commercial campaigns, training, etc.
In the Netherlands, Argenta does not have its own branch network. Customers can obtain Argenta products from more than 3,300 independent consultants and via Argenta's own channel. Savings products are available online only.
Staying connected in Covid times: Argenta not only wants to be close to its customers, but also to its branch managers and employees. That is why Argenta pays a lot of attention to staying connected, with respect for the Covid restrictions on physical contact. There were regular informative webinars, as well as relaxing activities like online quizzes, joint Strava challenges and walks with branch managers.