In the mid-1980s, twenty-three Rural Savings Banks, which had, until then, belonged to Grupo Asociado Banco de Crédito Agrícola – Cajas Rurales Asociadas, left Grupo BCA and formed the Asociación Española de Cooperativas de Crédito (Spanish Credit Cooperatives Association), nowadays Asociación Española de Cajas Rurales (Spanish Association of Rural Savings Banks).Since that time and to date, a further fifty-four Rural Savings Banks have joined the Association, making it one of the main banking groups operating in the Spanish financial system.
Its own institutional framework, and the company structure that has grown around it, confirm the consolidation of the most recent and far-reaching concentration process of the Spanish Cooperative Bank.
The resulting system of integration is a form of federated bank that enables the Rural Savings Banks in the network to keep their independence, without needing to sacrifice the vital requirement for efficiency in banking and company operations, also allowing them to take their activities beyond the limitations of their individual sizes and geographical areas.
The Rural Savings Banks in the group have, therefore, a defined area of activity in which to carry out their operations, yet they are not isolated, because their cooperation as a group allows them to access wider areas. Therefore Grupo Caja Rural can offer the same services as other banks and savings banks, while maintaining its links with the local area.
The formula for integration adopted by Grupo Caja Rural echoes that of other successful long-standing European cooperative banking systems, some of which are ranked among the continent’s top banking groups, such as, for example, Okobank in Finland, Rabobank in the Netherlands, Österreichische Raiffeisenbanken in Austria, Crédit Agricole in France or the German system Volksbanken-Raiffeisenbanken, better known in Spain through its central entity DZ BANK, that have market shares of approximately 31, 25, 24, 22 and 17 per cent respectively.
At the time of writing the 73 Rural Savings Banks comprising the Group, make up the total number of the rural savings banks operating in Spain, aggregating more than 97% of their total asset volume.
Grupo Caja Rural activities are supported by several participating companies, including Banco Cooperativo Español (Spanish Cooperative Bank), Asociación Española de Cajas Rurales (Spanish Association of Rural Savings Banks), and Sociedad Rural Servicios Informáticos (the Rural IT Services Company) and the companies making up Seguros RGA (RGA Insurance), which, if necessary, will be joined in the future by other service providers, according to the needs and demands of the market.
Grupo Caja Rural uses the Association as a tool for coordination and as a forum for debating matters of interest to the Group. Grupo Caja Rural uses the Institution to fix its priorities, strategies and action policies.Among the objectives sought by Grupo Caja Rural through the Association are:
Grupo Caja Rural has, in accordance with the rules of its company, an Internal Solidarity Fund, designed to prevent, or resolve situations of insolvency or cover resources in circumstances that could befall any of the Associated Rural Savings Banks.
This Solidarity Fund, which currently has assets of 107 million euros, provides an important additional guarantee to the clients of Rural Savings Banks, who can be sure that even though their Savings Bank may be going through a difficult patch at any given time, it has the back up, technical support and assets of Grupo Caja Rural behind it.
Clients can look on the Solidarity Fund as an additional guarantee to their own Rural Saving’s Bank’s property, added to the Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos en Cooperativas de Crédito (Guaranteed Deposit Fund in Credit Cooperatives) of which the Rural Savings Banks are members.