Client Case

Bank J. Van Breda


Bank J. Van Breda & C° is known for its people-centric culture. No surprise then that the bank scored a satisfaction rating of 87% in a recent employee survey. This motivated the bank to work with Hifluence to continue to invest in happier teams and better internal communication.
Since removing the middle-management layer, account managers in the field have been working autonomously. To improve the communication with the management team at head office, Hifluence put the internal operation under the microscope.
By making new agreements about the collaboration between the teams, communication has improved. The management team has been strengthened with representatives from the field. Decisions are now based more on practical experience and are supported more quickly. Reducing the number of meetings, while making them more efficient, has resulted in a considerable time saving.

The vision of an outside expert has proven invaluable

Five years ago, Bank J.Van Breda & C° opted for a flatter organisation in the belief that fewer managers and greater self-management would lead to increased employee engagement. ‘A motivated team is the absolute strength of an organisation,’ says Vic Pourbaix, member of the management committee and client relations manager. ‘Hifluence is able to unlock people’s potential like no other.’.

Happy employees make for happy customers. Something they know very well at Bank Van Breda. It is not for nothing that the bank for entrepreneurs and liberal professions is ranked among the top Belgian employers. In the most recent Great Place to Work survey, Bank Van Breda won bronze. With employees giving the bank a satisfaction rating of no less than 87%. And, an amazing 95% of employees responded positively to the statement ‘generally speaking, I can say this is a very good organisation to work for’.

It’s a great result, but we are not resting on our laurels. We always want to do better, that’s typical of us. ‘It’s why we contacted Hifluence. We wanted to keep growing as far as self-management and improving internal communication where concerned.

Vic Pourbaix

From one-way traffic to dialogue

The commercial network of Bank Van Breda consists of 200 employees in Belgium. This team of account managers is responsible for customer contact. ‘These teams used to be managed by regional managers, but five years ago, we decided to simplify the organisation. Since removing the middle-management layer, the field has had greater autonomy. This works brilliantly. Our people locally know best what is going on in the customer’s world.’

The network works together with the sales and management team based at head office. This team is responsible for the HR policy in the network, training and sales, among other things. ‘Despite the removal of the middle layer, there was still a top-down approach, with the management team directing the local departments. This created a lack of understanding and mix-ups. Instead of one-way traffic, we wanted to evolve towards a dialogue between two entities that stand beside and strengthen each other.’


Advice and tools

‘We organised workshops to map the situation,’ says Nick Van Langendonck, who led the project. ‘Together with the teams, we drew up a plan of action.’ You see things more clearly from a distance, believes Vic Pourbaix. ‘The vision of an outside expert has proven invaluable. Hifluence skilfully assessed our sales organisation, with a critical eye, which resulted in concrete advice and practical tools.’

Communication is more efficient. In the past, the teams would have a half-day meeting once a week; now, they do so once a month. Hierarchy has made way for consultation. The management team has been strengthened with three representatives from the field. Vic Pourbaix: ‘Support is achieved more quickly. Engagement has increased, despite the fact that we still mostly work from a distance.’

Coronavirus Crisis

In hindsight, the coronavirus crisis happened at the right time, according to Vic Pourbaix. ‘Suddenly, we had to telework, communicate better and rely on each other even more. The crisis forced us to adapt fast. We embraced our new way of working double-quick.’

The company really stepped up to the mark as a result of the crisis. ‘Working from home was hard for many, particularly parents. Our people have made incredible efforts, which have paid off. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: there is great enthusiasm for the new dynamic. That’s amazing to see.’

Vic Pourbaix

Holding the reins differently

The conversations with Hifluence have given Vic Pourbaix new insights. ‘Self-management is not about letting go, but about holding the reins differently. By supporting people in the right way, you give them wings. In a big organisation, changes of this size require trust, internally from the teams and in the partner guiding you. Because it’s about the foundation of who you are and how you work.’


With Hifluence, there is no woolly thinking. Theirs is a no-nonsense approach, with attention to personal freedom and the necessary structure. Because the banking sector is highly regulated, so a clear framework is essential. Hifluence understood this. Nick knows how to unlock the potential of people like no other.’

Vic Pourbaix



Interested in our unbossing experience?

Marbles is fully committed to self-management. To achieve the company’s growth ambition, unbossing is crucial. Hifluence immersed the team in an intensive five-day programme: the Unbossing Experience.


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