Why we should keep talking?

…and moving forward

Ensuring FIDI’s finances are in good shape is just one of the ‘hats’ worn by treasurer Piet van Herk, who is based in the Netherlands. In our latest board member interview, Piet explains why he thinks the organisation needs to continue listening to its members…

What is your role on the board? And tell us briefly about your career and experience in the industry.

I’m the board treasurer, looking after the money of the federation and ensuring that it will be well spent. I’ve been on the board since 2011, joining after the Lisbon FIDI convention. I started in the industry 25 years ago as a chief financial officer (CFO) of Voerman and in 2005 I became the chief executive officer (CEO), after Ed Voerman retired. Being chairman, and the financial side of things, have always been my areas of expertise on the board, but I’m also involved in quality and new developments, including offices we are planning to establish abroad, plus IT and insurance projects.

In terms of FIDI, it is important it stays in good financial shape as, among other things, it provides the FIDI Payment Protection Plan, which is a financial buffer for affiliates when things go wrong.

Tell us something about yourself that members don’t know.

I’m married (for almost 36 years) and have two sons; the youngest is our CFO (at Voerman) and the oldest is a chef. We also have two lovely granddaughters. My eldest son has taught me a lot about cooking, so that has become one of my hobbies. I also play golf as a beginner, and would like to pick this up when I have more time.

What are your areas of responsibility? Why are these important to FIDI, its affiliates, and the FIDI Associations?

Besides finance, I also support Michael (Cassiers), the secretary general, with some office matters. I intend to make a habit of speaking to our personnel and helping them – with Michael – grow their office functions. It should help Michael to delegate some matters. We are also looking for new offices, and are busy selling the current building in Brussels.

What do you regard as the most important projects and objectives for FIDI (and why)?

The most important thing is to give the affiliates as much service as they need. The FIDI Academy is doing a good job; however, I favour every affiliate company sending at least one of their staff to an Essentials in Moving (EiM) course. I am a supporter of making this compulsory, as a part of FAIM.

It is always the same companies, in the main, who send people to the academy. Smaller firms often feel they cannot afford the academy courses and don’t want to lose their member of staff for a week. But from experience, I know that the investment of sending one of your staff to the FIDI Academy will pay back every cent.

We are not as good at promoting our services as we should be. Personally, I’m disappointed that we did not succeed in promoting the FIDI Payment Service as a benefit for the members. Affiliates really could have saved money with this; we know that from the latest users, but we did not succeed in convincing the bigger bookers to believe in it. That’s a shame.

But that’s all part of the game of being an umbrella organisation without jurisdiction over its members – and it should be that way, because that makes it a challenge for FIDI to look for new changes to benefit affiliates.

Finally, what are you looking forward to most in the coming years at FIDI?

It is important to make sure FIDI reflects changes in the industry. The prominent role of the relocation companies in our industry is a fact. How can FIDI be of most service to its members?

We must talk to the directors of member companies – big or small – and keep in touch with their needs. What more do they want from us, how can we improve? Do we have to change services like payment protection – because that is more of a benefit for the companies working as a destination or origin agent for the bigger ones – or should we expand the service of the independent industry experts?

I still believe that FIDI can add important value to the industry, but it also has to come out of its comfort zone, just like its members did. I believe FIDI needs to move forward, as I think it is in much the same position as it was three or four years ago in terms of services and mindset.

Source: ​FIDI Focus No. 257, October/November 2013