Project status: concluded
This research sprung out of the practitioner forums (known in Italian as Cantieri, “building sites”), run by Euricse, and specifically of the cooperative credit practitioner forum. Euricse participated in this working group as moderator for the managers and chairmen of a number of cooperative banks in Trento, the Cassa Centrale Banca and the Trentino Federation of Cooperatives. The group’s objective was to define what makes a “Buona Cassa Rurale” (good cooperative bank) and what are the parameters on which cooperative banks should work in order to respect all of their objectives and principles, both those relating to banking and to their cooperative nature. The forum led to a specific research phase with a theoretical exploration and an empirical testing of the distinctive traits of a cooperative bank and research into indices and indicators to define what makes a “Buona Cassa Rurale”, hence the project’s name.
The aim of the research was to identify the variables, indices and indicators that define the many different objectives of a cooperative bank. In particular, the initial goal was to determine the different dimensions of a cooperative bank’s action, considering what it means to be a bank (in terms of economic and financial sustainability, efficiency, results, products, etc.), what it means to be a cooperative (analysing the quality of the relationship with members) and what it means to be a local bank (looking at the capacity to include the local area and raise local awareness).
Moreover, the model had the aim to propose a list of performance indexes, which were then included in the synthetic model of evaluation thanks to a weighing system.
The research allowed an evaluation of Trentino’s cooperative banks, highlighting some strengths (in terms of reduced riskiness, good liquidity, good treatment of employees, system integration) but also revealing some weaknesses or aspects that could be improved (such as some aspects of the relationship with members and efficiency).
As well as the specific results from the analysis, most importantly the research also allowed the verification of a model for data analysis and the identification of indices and indicators of good progress for a cooperative bank. Indexes and indicators had been identified among data available in second level statistical sources (i.e., databases by the Trentino Federation of Cooperatives), but they could be extended in the future thanks to the collection of first-level data on further quantitative and qualitative dimensions.
The model is now being applied annually by the Trentino Federation of Cooperatives to all of Trentino’s cooperative banks in order to evaluate the state of the system and to assess possible policies for improvement.
Euricse, (2011), Verso un sistema di indicatori per definire la Buona Cassa Rurale, Euricse research report
This research project is part of a general scientific reflection on the role of cooperative banks and their distinctive features. This is why it is an integral element of the considerations developed as part of the research study:
Trentino Federation of Cooperatives
Trentino cooperative banks