Caja Navarra sells on civic banking
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Caja Navarra sells on civic banking

How would you react if your bank sent you a letter telling you exactly how much money they made out of you? If you were a customer of Caja Navarra then the answer would probably be that you would start doing more business with them and tell your friends to do the same.

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The relatively small caja based in Pamplona in the Navarra region of northern Spain provides a great example of how Spain’s cajas have pioneered innovative strategies to win market share against the commercial banks in an ultra-competitive banking market. Caja Navarra’s strategy, which it calls civic banking, draws on what it sees as the cajas’ unique strength: their close connection with the communities and organizations to which they were founded to be benefactors.

"Social considerations should make people more keen to choose cajas as their banks, but that often doesn’t happen because people don’t feel involved in the cajas’ social works," says Iñaki Iraizoz, head of strategy at Caja Navarra. "We believe that if we can give people the chance to get involved then we can make them feel closer not only to their bank but also their community."

In 2004, Caja Navarra’s general assembly unanimously agreed to let the bank give its customers the choice over how the bank’s contribution to charity should be distributed. The experiment began modestly by giving customers the chance to decide how the bank should divide its donations between categories of causes such as the environment and the arts.

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