Who is Albert A. van Daalen?
About his academic background
He was born in Middelburg, province of Zeeland (1955), and grew up in a family hotel. Father was Catholic, mother Protestant; later both became evangelicals. As a toddler, he wanted to be a minister, but after elementary school, he first attended trade school in the province of Zeeland. He then decided to study theology and religious studies in Belgium, and during that time lived in the Jesuit monastery there. He later continued that academic study in England and the United States, including teacher and minister training, with a specialisation in church administration, nurtured by public & business administration, followed by a course in corporate finance at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands.
Minister and businessman
The minister and the businessman are the two archetypes of Dutch society, united in him by both his academic background and work. The role of the businessman is characterised by commercial spirit: innovative, changeable, cosmopolitan. The businessman makes contacts and is capable of changing perspectives. The role of the minister, on the other hand, requires more of an ethical outlook, which, because of doctrinal concerns, is less innovative or changeable and also less flexible. Actually, the minister is the conscience of the businessman and vice versa. That duality emerged in 2011 when he became a full-time businessman in the ‘world of big money’ unknown to him. A duality, where sometimes the businessman prevails, and sometimes the minister. This can lead to tensions due to being principled as a minister, but when it comes down to it, being willing to give priority to social or commercial interests – also because his philosophical leanings make him averse to any form of dogmatism and rule-making. And perhaps also because of the adage: “cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita” (if the end is legitimate, the means are also legitimate), which is still associated with the Jesuits. “The risk, however, may be that this will lead to making the wrong choices to achieve the intended goal.”
Reflection gradually brought him to understand the balancing of this dualistic thinking. By connecting differences; and by combining commercial interests with principles. The businessman and the minister are not in opposition or competition, but equal to each other. The businessman and the minister therefore have everything to do with connecting reflections on questions of conscience and life, where ‘good’ and ‘evil’, especially in the ‘world of big money’, with which after all – socially speaking – you can also ‘do good’, and are sometimes difficult to distinguish.
About his ecumenical background
Based on his graduate degree in religious studies, he first taught religious and social studies at secondary vocational schools (1978-1992) and later humanities and social studies at higher vocational schools (2009-2015) in the Netherlands. From 1993 to 2007, he was a paid ministerial board member of a broad-based consultative platform of national directors of Catholic, Protestant and evangelical denominations and publishers in the Netherlands. Every two years, the so-called Alverna conferences were held and the Year with the Bible (in Dutch: Jaar met de Bijbel) and the New Bible Translation (in Dutch: Nieuwe Bijbel Vertaling), among others, were realised at the initiative of this ecumenical platform. Before that and since, he has been and continues to be a paid/unpaid minister as well as a director (in the position of chairman, secretary or treasurer of about 20 different religious and social organisations) and supervisor.
During his life as a church minister, including in the international prison ministry, where he was a pastoral attaché visiting Dutch prisoners abroad, he was ordained by three distinct denominations as a minister. First by the Dutch Assemblies of God (1978-1985), then by the Dutch Mennonites (1991-2015), and then in 2015 by an ecumenical faith community in the United States.
About his entrepreneurial background
In 1973, he started his mail-based bookstore and in 1982 his own educational company, until entrepreneurship became incompatible with his career in education. In 2005, he became an entrepreneur again after 20 years, this time as a franchisee organisational consultant for the social sector in the Netherlands, for both charities and healthcare institutions, as well as commercial foundations and associations.
In 2011, after his apprenticeship in corporate finance and an outplacement program, he decided to become primarily a business & finance consultant for businesses inside and outside the Netherlands. After all, as a minister, being fully subservient to the world was something he had already been taught in the Jesuit monastery. Over a thousand people found their way to his office in ’t Gooi district, and later in the Zuidas district in Amsterdam between 2011 and 2017, mainly to discuss non-bank financing options.
Mindful of the province of Zeeland’s motto “Luctor et Emergo”: I struggle and come out on top
One of Albert Einstein’s famous quotes is: “Failure is success in progress.” The way to success was unfortunately also paved with failure. Indeed, some alternative capital providers proved unable to realise their investment in accordance with their contractual obligations. As a result of the claims made at the time (including to him as an intermediary), and the resulting financial consequences, he personally filed for bankruptcy for five of his ten corporations in mid-2016. But with the non-failed corporations, he could continue his work unrestrained.
He developed a progressive understanding of the risks associated with a number of financing structures. After fully settling his bankruptcies in the mid-2020s, he has become adept at acquiring a successful network of capital providers and other key contacts, and also in providing a second opinion to capital investees on the financing structures proposed to them. This enabled him to save many from making the wrong decisions.
Entrepreneurship is all about adaptability
In nature, the organism that best manages to adapt to changes in its environment, survives. This natural principle also applies to people and society. He experienced that principle personally in his struggle to survive during his bankruptcy years. But in the ever-changing world, entrepreneurship is also about adaptability. In business, it is necessary to respond to changing circumstances, time and again. Sometimes these require, for example, loan capital in the form of debt and/or equity, or a (re)investment in real estate. And sometimes mergers or acquisitions.
About his ‘unique selling points’ (USPs) as a businessman
Gradually, his business obtained a focus on both business & finance strategy and corporate finance as well as real estate trading, such as buying, selling and rentals. He now has a highly qualified network that has led to successfully completed engagements in this context. He realises this in close cooperation with other (independent) professionals.
He makes available both his versatile expertise and entrepreneurial experience and his international network to companies and institutions through his corporations and partnerships in order to help achieve their stated goals. But also to investors looking for a knowledgeable professional to (help) find clients or (help) select interesting propositions. All based on a maximum result-focused effort at low cost.
Finally, his social commitment
As a minister he wants to serve churches and society through ecumenical pastoral and diaconal ministries. His ministries are characterized by a non-dogmatic and non-ideological approach, which includes both conservative and liberal positions.
The focus in his diaconal ministry is on connecting theological and religious sources of the past with current socio-economic and political issues. What connects beliefs is that they focus on well-being instead of prosperity and on values instead of (self) interests. This connection leads to the premise that we must prevent humans as the dominant primate becoming a danger to life on earth and thereby to themselves and others.
That vision has led, among other things, to his involvement in investments that are mainly concerned with the question: how can investments contribute to a total value: F (financial) + S (social) + E (ecological)? At the same time, it is important to encourage and equip those who invest to use their beliefs in a way that makes them feel empowered, hopeful and more committed to a future-proof planet.
His pastoral ministry is focused on careful being there for everyone without exception in their search for meaningful answers to personal life questions. And being involved as an ecumenical minister in rites of passage, such as baptisms, marriages and funerals.
In honour of his service to the church and society, he received an honorary doctorate of divinity in mid-2020, followed over a year later by an honorary doctorate of philosophy for his contribution to critical thinking about the role and impact that religion and belief can play in personal development and fulfillment from a humanities perspective. Both were awarded by church seminaries in the United States.