In March, it will be exactly five years since Nationaal Restauratiefonds (trans. National Restoration Fund) outsourced its treasury activities to Ilfa. Nationaal Restauratiefonds is a foundation that supports owners of monuments who want to restore, repurpose, and make sustainable improvements to their properties. In addition to financial support through mortgage loans and subsidies, the Nationaal Restauratiefonds has two other important pillars: sharing knowledge and expertise and building networks. Coen Reinders, manager of Partners & Operations at Nationaal Restauratiefonds, explains how the collaboration with Ilfa works.

Let's go back in time for a moment. The collaboration between Nationaal Restauratiefonds, Nationaal Groenfonds, and SVn ended. There was no more fund management, which included treasury management. So, what was the best choice? The initial idea was for Nationaal Restauratiefonds to hire a full-time treasurer. However, having only one person responsible for the entire treasury proved to be less than ideal. Without backup, a company is at risk, and the success of its treasury activities depends solely on the knowledge and motivation of that one person. That's why five years ago, in 2019, the Nationaal Restauratiefonds entered into a collaboration with Ilfa. Ilfa, as an external party, has more personnel, expertise, and networks because treasury management is their core business.

Coen Reinders became involved with Nationaal Restauratiefonds when the decision to outsource treasury management to Ilfa had already been made. This decision came about through a general inquiry, with requirements including a dedicated treasury management system and licensing. Even though Coen was not directly involved in the preparation process, there was immediate trust: "The entire process was well thought out and explained. There was a careful selection procedure with clear criteria. That inspired confidence. And if I had to choose again now, I would make the same choice."

What is the biggest difference with Ilfa as external assistance?

Due to experiences with fund management and having had a temporary full-time treasurer, Nationaal Restauratiefonds already had some knowledge of treasury management. However, having someone to oversee and reinforce important aspects is often beneficial. For instance, a business case must be separated from the financing choice. Both aspects require careful consideration, particularly in the correct sequence. Irma Langeraert, managing partner at Ilfa, says, "We understand the process because we engage with various clients at different stages. We know where the pain points lie and how to address them." By consistently following Ilfa's established methods, deals can be struck that previously seemed impossible. Coen adds, "In our 39-year history, we have attempted to increase our funds several times without success. With Ilfa's assistance, particularly through our contact person Gerard van Baar, we have succeeded. The collaboration has been very effective."

"In our 39-year history, we have attempted to increase our funds several times without success. With Ilfa's assistance, we have succeeded."

How does the collaboration with Ilfa's team work?

There is daily communication between the finance team at Nationaal Restauratiefonds and Ilfa's Treasury Desk team regarding cash management, large payments, and other practical matters. Additionally, there is monthly contact in a treasury committee between Nationaal Restauratiefonds and Ilfa, represented by Irma Langeraert and Gerard van Baar (associate partner at Ilfa). This committee meets to stay informed about ongoing matters and to act promptly when necessary, such as deciding on new loans, deposits, and ad hoc issues. Coen explains, "These meetings are invaluable. They're not just a formality but an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience, and to stay informed about financial market trends. Throughout our collaboration, there have been only a few cancellations, typically during summer, but otherwise, they continue with the key players in attendance. This increases our collective responsibility." Irma adds, "And it makes the transition between operational and strategic tasks much smoother." Outside of these scheduled meetings, there is always time for ad hoc discussions and questions. Clear strategies and work methods ensure preparedness for unexpected situations.

How is the collaboration perceived?

It is evident that the collaboration is a success. Standard processes run smoothly, there is clarity, and there's extensive communication. An unexpected benefit of the collaboration is that Nationaal Restauratiefonds has become more self-sufficient. Previously, issues with IT systems could have caused problems, but with Ilfa, all necessary information is available for the treasury committee every month. Coen notes, "We never had to ask, 'Where do we stand? Where is funding needed?' Ilfa provided that information for us."

“We never had to ask, 'Where do we stand? Where is funding needed?' Ilfa provided that information for us."

What's next?

Sustainability plays an increasingly significant role at Nationaal Restauratiefonds. More and more projects involving monuments incorporate sustainability aspects. One noticeable trend is the decreasing energy consumption. Initially, this data was not readily available, as monuments, for example, typically do not require energy labels. However, it's becoming more common. Internally, Nationaal Restauratiefonds is also considering sustainability. The treasury policy is being made ESG-proof, with ethical financing playing a major role. There are plenty of challenges and opportunities for the future!

As the implementation of new 'green' legislation progresses, the financial landscape continues to evolve. Any enterprise requiring financing from or through professional market players will experience the effects. However, this doesn't have to be daunting if you know what to look out for. Stay tuned to our news page for more information on sustainable financing according to the new legislation, coming very soon.