Good governance

Good governance

Claiming your practices are sustainable and your practices actually being sustainable are two entirely different things. We believe that good governance can make all the difference. And so, we look at companies’ core values. At effectiveness, integrity, democracy, transparency, accountability. How do the board and supervisory body handle that? Read all about it here.

Collection Contents
7 Publications

“Pension funds bear a huge responsibility, for the Netherlands of today and the future”

Published on: 29 July 2021

Annette Mosman took the reins as CEO of APG in March. She is hoping to gain as many inspirational insights as possible in the first months of her new job. That is why she is holding 25 meetings on her hike from Amsterdam to Heerlen. This was a journey through the Netherlands of Tomorrow, with a different person accompanying her on each leg of the trip. Her companions were colleagues, but also people from outside APG, like Tuur Elzinga, chairman of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation.

The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Pink: they all performed here. The Malieveld was their outdoor concert hall. That said, protesting trade unions also regularly take over the “Haagse grasveld,” the famous field in The Hague. There’s no doubt that Tuur Elzinga has also left many footprints in that field. His history with the trade union movement stretches back to 2002, when he was appointed as a policy officer at the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation. Almost twenty years on, he is now chairman of the trade union and employers’ and employees’ organizations since March 10 of this year, to be precise. He also represented the Socialist Party (SP) in the Upper House of the Senate for nine years. This means that he is as familiar with the green polders of the Netherlands as the green benches of the Senate.


Getting fat on the bones

Elzinga believes that things need to change in the Netherlands. In his opinion, the pandemic is a tipping point: the market-driven approach that has gone too far must make way for a revaluation of society. The pandemic has revealed how indispensable certain sectors are to our society, like health care, education and childcare.. “It is precisely those vital sectors that have fallen behind in recent years,” Elzinga reckons. Schools, hospitals and kindergartens have been run like businesses, and cut backs have been the order of the day. This has led to a shortage of ICU capacity, protective equipment and staff during the pandemic. “We need to get fat back on the bones again; we need proper reserves. That may not be very efficient, but it stops the whole of society from grinding to a halt when times get tough.”


Fears for the future 

The pandemic has also widened the gap between the poor – those with few prospects – and the rich. The Netherlands has become more prosperous in recent decades, but not everyone has benefited from this. The flexible labor market has put permanent jobs at risk and wages have not risen enough in line with profits. “Inequality has widened, and imbalances have occurred,” Elzinga tells us. Not to mention the climate crisis, from which there is no escape, both literally and figuratively, as we face extreme weather, forest fires and floods across the planet. Elzinga points out that this leads to unrest. “People are concerned about their own future and that of generations down the line. As a country, your sole aim may be to make as much money as possible, but what kind of home will we be leaving to our children and grandchildren if social cohesion is under pressure and our planet is being eroded?”


Plus another one million permanent jobs

Fortunately, the pandemic has also prompted politicians – from left to right – and some employers to realize that the Netherlands of Tomorrow demands change, believes Elzinga. He believes that we can start rebuilding the country without delay. We already have the blue print: broad-based prosperity for the whole of the Dutch population. That is the approach underlying the Social and Economic Council’s draft advice that trade unions and employers presented together this spring: a package of measures for the new cabinet. First and foremost, the labor market must be reformed: we must return to more permanent contracts, instead of flexible employment. Elzinga would like to see at least another one million permanent jobs. “People need job and income security. They want bread on the table, they must be able to pay the bills and have enough disposable income for their leisure time.”

The climate change price tag

Broad-based prosperity also calls for greater investments in public funds for vital sectors, like health care and education. For example, better terms of employment must stop the trend of having unmotivated employees: it may be more enticing to get out of bed in the mornings and take up the task of teaching if wages rise and work-related pressure is reduced. More must also be invested in the quality of public services, such as the Employee Insurance Agency, the tax authorities – here we have in mind the childcare benefit scandal – and yes, also pension administration. Elzinga says, “Better performance from institutions may also help to close the current gap in confidence.” For the long term, there needs to be substantial investment in tackling climate change. “We have to stop procrastinating and start addressing the issue. The longer we kick the can down the road, the higher the price tag will be.” So we need more funds to accelerate the energy transition, while at the same time being socially accountable by helping people who lose their jobs to get other work.  


Strong government required

Given the long societal wish list, the government can no longer keep its distance, Elzinga believes. Since the eighties, the maxim in The Hague has been: strong market forces, small government. “A market is a good for ensuring that there is enough to round, but you can’t leave everything to market forces,” Elzinga reckons. “We are now faced with the mess that the mantra of liberalization, privatization and deregulation has left us in.” Rebuilding the Netherlands calls for a stronger state, one that actively helps shape the society of the future through public participations and targeted investments, and legislation and regulation must ensure that market participants accept their social responsibility. This need for a government with a firm hand on the rudder does not stop at the borders. For example, Elzinga welcomes the G7 plan for a global minimum tax rate of 15 percent for multinationals. It will make tax avoidance through tax havens more difficult because it will put an end to competition among countries that lure foreign investors by having the lowest tax rates.


Tech giants

It is also crucial to have international regulations that curb the influence of Big Tech and Big Data. Elzinga adds, “Big tech companies are capitalizing on data that we as consumers are producing ourselves. They are using existing digital infrastructure, without giving anything in return.” The same is true of multinationals that are getting patents for innovations that they were not solely responsible for conceiving. After all, their smart employees are educated at publicly funded universities and draw on the body of knowledge that our knowledge-based society has accrued in centuries past-. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. “Data, knowledge, but also for example raw materials and energy sources such as the sun and wind and ultimately our entire planet: it belongs to all of us. What gives a handful of companies the right to claim ownership? Why should managers and shareholders be allowed to become wealthy beyond description from it, while employees and the rest of society have to make do with the crumbs?” says Elzinga.

I hope that one day it will no longer be necessary to strike

“Give employees control”

The pyramid must be turned upside down. That doesn’t call for revolution; instead it calls for a radical change in direction, through gradual, democratic means, according to Elzinga. He believes that the first tentative steps down this new path have been taken. Governments are slowly starting to take back their traditional role, companies are taking more responsibility for their environment and consumers, citizens and major investors are more inclined to hold them to account. The next step is to give employees and society a real say, Elzinga argues. “'Give those people who come up with all those innovative ideas a voice, the ones that do the real work, who are the actual rightful owners of companies’ products and services: all of us, in other words. Who’s the boss? Who decides? As it stands now, they are managers and shareholders; in the future we should all be able to be in charge.”


From shareholder return to social gains

In recent years, Elzinga has been conducting the negotiations for the pension agreement on behalf of employers’ and employees’ organizations of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation. It’s a historic agreement; designed to keep old-age provisions affordable going forward, without abandoning the principle of solidarity. “In the new system, the contributions you have accrued are reflected more directly in your own pension accrual, but we will still ensure that people who are not so fortunate in their careers will also be able to have a good pension, and we will spread the risks across the generations.” That said, Elzinga believes that the pension discussion is far from over. If interest rates remain this low in the coming years and investment returns structurally decline in the future, as predicted, then it will not be possible to keep the promise of an indexed-linked pension and the trust gap in society will widen. Pension funds could then take the next step: from shareholder return to social gains.


Pension benefits in kind? 

Elzinga explains, “Pension funds should examine the needs people have later in life. Do they then only need money? Or would they rather have a nice place to live, good care and quality of life? Invest in that directly as a pension fund; put pension money into new kinds of housing for senior citizens, good care for the elderly and restoring social infrastructure, so that it is to hand when people need it.” This would be a type of pension in kind. And why only invest in provisions for old age? Pension funds can also be used to improve today’s society. Here we have in mind investments in the tight housing market – which mainly affects young generations – or in good education, for a robust Netherlands of Tomorrow. Elzinga adds, “Pension funds have major assets and that means they bear a huge responsibility, for the Netherlands of today and the future.” 


An end to strikes

During the pension agreement negotiations, the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation, together with the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands and the Trade Union for Professionals, halted train traffic for a day to apply pressure for a slower rise in the state pension age. What does Elzinga think: will there still be strikes in the Netherlands of Tomorrow? “I suspect so. In the meantime, there will be conflicts of interest between employers and their workforces. But I hope that one day it will no longer be necessary to strike: if employees are given a real say, they can be part of the decision-making process and conflicts of interest will become a thing of the past. If you are the boss, there’s no need for you to strike.” So the Malieveld of the future will be solely for the successors of The Stones and Coldplay, in other words: the ultimate festival grounds? Elzinga laughs, “Yes, that’s where we’ll gather to simply have a good time, do stuff we enjoy or celebrate together, for example, the great pension system that we have in the Netherlands.”      

Volgende publicatie:
"Involve ESG objectives in remuneration policy"

"Involve ESG objectives in remuneration policy"

Published on: 14 April 2021

Senior corporate governance specialist of APG Asset Management Mirte Bronsdijk and head of investments ABP Diane Griffioen critically monitor the remuneration policy of companies. "Compensation policies should reflect the connection between financial and non-financial goals."


Read the full double interview (in Dutch) here.

Volgende publicatie:
Annette Mosman appointed chief executive officer of APG

Annette Mosman appointed chief executive officer of APG

Published on: 15 February 2021

Annette Mosman has been appointed chief executive officer of APG Groep as of March 1st, 2021. She succeeds Gerard van Olphen who is stepping down on April 1st of this year. Annette has already been a member of the board of directors of APG as CFRO since February 2018. By appointing Annette, APG has a female chief executive officer for the first time in history.

Pieter Jongstra, chairman of the supervisory board, is pleased with the appointment of Annette:

“For the pension sector in The Netherlands, the expected New Pension Contract marks an important and challenging period and its implementation will be demanding for pension providers such as APG. I am pleased that Annette, as very experienced leader, will be at the helm during this period. We wish her every success in her new role.”


A word of thanks also goes to Gerard:

“APG as well as the Supervisory Board are deeply grateful to Gerard van Olphen. Gerard led an intensive process from the start of his appointment, in which he stood at the cradle of setting a clear strategy for APG and in which the interests of the participants were made a priority.  He helped shape the new strategy, which will enable the Executive Board and the entire APG team to continue on the same path. We wish him and his family all the best for the future.”


As of March 1, 2021, the APG Executive Board will be composed as follows:

Annette Mosman (Chairman)

Ronald Wuijster (Chair Asset Management)

Francine van Dierendonck (Chair DWS, Chair Pension Administration ad interim)

vacancy (Chief Finance and Risk Officer)



Curious about Annette and the plans she has in her new position? Watch this video 


Volgende publicatie:
'I don't doubt for a second what I'm asking of companies'

'I don't doubt for a second what I'm asking of companies'

Published on: 10 July 2020

With a background in student activism and investment banking, Yoo-Kyung (YK) Park is driven to change corporate Asia for the better. She’s been at it for eleven years, and is by no means less committed. Are there differences between Asia and other continents when it comes to engaging with companies about their behavior? ‘There is a big difference between the various countries in Asia. There are developed countries, such as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, and developing countries, which include China, India and South Korea. What they all have in common, though, is that their ESG standards are still under development.’

An interview with Yoo-Kyung Park, Head of Responsible Investment & Governance Asia-Pacific at APG


‘Some practices that we take for granted in Europe, are not so common in Asia. In Europe, for example, if you want to engage with a company, you can talk to senior management or even board members and you tend to get the information you need. To get this type of access in Asia, you need to invest a lot of time and effort to build trust. Only after several years will board members open to you. I have been engaging with Samsung Electronics on various corporate governance issues for eleven years. Although the company has made positive changes, I am still not done talking to them.’


How receptive are Asian companies to what you ask of them?
‘It depends on what you’re asking. If you want a company to improve its reporting, you can talk to the Investor Relations department, and there’s a good chance they will respond to your request. But if you want a company to change its corporate culture, or deal with bribery and corruption, it’s not that straightforward, especially if our holding in the company is relatively small. In such cases it’s not easy to get access. So you have to be resourceful and come up with other ways to gain influence. I then seek cooperation with other parties, such as politicians, diplomates, NGOs, or the media.’


How do you find a way to deal with more sensitive topics, such as human rights?
‘That also depends on the country. In Japan, you can talk about human rights, but in China you need to come up with less direct ways to address this. You have to make the topic about, for example, employees’ health & safety, or working conditions for migrant workers. You need to make it specific. And you always link it to the impact it can have on a company’s business. When I talked to Korean shipbuilders about fatal accidents in their operations, and did not get a satisfactory response, I alerted their clients, the large ship buyers, to this issue. They were concerned about safe working conditions and called on the shipbuilders to improve them. Several oil companies have now paid more attention to the safety standard for Korean shipbuilders.’


I want change. I don’t just want to keep talking for the sake of talking.

Is the fact that you are a woman an impediment in some countries?
‘It was and still is. There are some very conservative countries. For example, when I organize a meeting with executives or policy makers in countries like Japan and South Korea, all the others in the room are men. I am not expected to ask questions in such an environment. I find that I have to push harder and make a bigger effort to get my message across. But I don’t mind. It’s my message that’s important.’


You have been in this job for over a decade. What keeps you going?
‘I want change. I don’t just want to keep talking for the sake of talking. I see hope for Asia. The culture and mindset of board members are changing and we have managed to make concrete changes for the better. What gives me courage is that I know I always have the backing of APG and its pension fund clients. I know that they are genuinely committed to change. As a result, I have zero doubt in what I ask from companies.’

On behalf of APG as a global pension investor, Yoo-Kyung Park engages with companies on environmental, social and governance issues to push for improvement. You can read more about this in our Responsible Investment Report for 2019.



Volgende publicatie:
APG signs the Diversity Charter

APG signs the Diversity Charter

Published on: 7 December 2016

On 6 December a new group of employers in the private and public sectors put their signature to the Diversity Charter. Eighty companies are now committed to an increase in diversity and an inclusive business environment. By signing the Diversity Charter, these companies and organizations undertake to make specific efforts towards an effective diversity policy. Renate Litjens, director of Group Human Resources, signed on behalf of APG.


The new signatories are: Accenture, Alliander, APG, De Brandweerkorpsen Amsterdam - Amstelland, Haaglanden, Kennemerland and IJsselland, Hotel Casa Amsterdam, Deloitte, Fruitful Office, Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid, ManpowerGroup Nederland, Microsoft Nederland, MKB Amsterdam and UWV. The day’s chair Harry van de Kraats, general director of the employers' association AWVN, stated that the signatories are bound by a belief in diversity. It is in the interests of the organization to take advantage of this: diversity is a business case.


A more balanced composition of employees at all levels, respect, tolerance and fair chances are characteristics of an inclusive company culture. This is the responsibility of employers and employees. The Labour Foundation (STAR), the consultative body of the central organizations of employers and employees, has taken the initiative on 'Diversity in Business' and thus the Diversity Charter. The Council for Public Sector Personnel Policy (ROP) is also involved in this initiative. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) supports the implementation. There are currently Diversity Charters in effect in fifteen European countries, which have been signed by more than 7,000 companies and organizations.


APG’s goals

The Charter includes the goals of the company/organization. APG's goal is that it wants its workforce to reflect the composition of the participant population of pension funds for which it works to a greater extent. Over the years, the composition of the participant population that APG administers on behalf of the pension funds has changed. Because participants are compulsorily affiliated with their pension fund, APG feels an additional obligation to align its workforce in the same direction.

Volgende publicatie:
The times they are a-Changin

The times they are a-Changin

Published on: 2 October 2016

Ethics and integrity was the topic of conversation on September 1 this year at the meeting of the professional associations of investment professionals VBA and CFA. Is a nice mix of ethics and integrity solution for Times are a-changin ', internet, big data, and trust?


Finance part of society

Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Gerard van Olphen, chairman of the APG board, Fieke van der Lecq, Professor of Pension Markets at the VU and Jacob Kohnstamm, former president of the Personal Authority, spoke about their vision and challenges. Fintech experts Don Ginsel Maurice Olijve and Berend de Jong explained how FinTech a blessing or curse can be for consumers. To restore confidence, the financial sector needs to feel part of society. Taking care of other people's money charges a big responsibility with it.


Stop "the drivel about trust

For professionals in the sector, it can sometimes be frustrating that confidence remains low. Just as it seems to get better, new facts throw a spanner in the works. With new rules if it turns out as a result. Specific van der Lecq called to stop with 'drivel about trust; "Be extra careful if you only earn money with money." The challenge in a rapidly changing environment is to think about your own value. What does a consumer or business-specific products and services? These contribute to the operating or the realization of goals of the client? What do businesses and consumers of the sector? Therefore it is necessary to have intensive discussions with the customer. A statement such as 'customer-centric' professed by all operators in the sector. But we know the customer really? 


Otherwise acting trust

The FinTech experts gave an insight into the latest developments at the cutting edge of technological innovation and the financial sector. The Netherlands also now has hundreds of startups that focus much more than traditional financials on things that really wants consumers. Confidence appears suddenly to work very differently. New businesses can quickly become part of the familiar environment of consumers, where they reveal a lot of information about themselves. Knowing the customer has become much simpler, but this is always safe? Security is a growing issue and 100% security does not exist. The financial sector understands according to the FinTech experts not enough that the customer behavior has really changed. Time for navel-gazing is not new companies from outside the sector will only too happy to serve consumers in the area of pay, insurance and investment. And often at lower cost.


Delicate balance between convenience and risk

However confront the convenience of FinTech also risks. If personal data (big data) are a means of payment, then we must pay attention, said Jacob Kohnstamm. Create profiles of consumers may have unseen consequences and freedom, autonomy, equality and self-development can be compromised. A dime can not be penny more.


Commonplace and accessible, not easier

Thus FinTech new dilemmas brings along with it. The conversation with the community is essential to maintain the purity of the moral compass, especially in rapidly changing times. Aiming to keep the interests of customers, providers and other stakeholders in balance goes on. Simplify the financial world is not all new providers but commonplace and accessible. To the satisfaction of the customer.

Volgende publicatie:
Pension funds respond to Follow This proposal at Shell shareholders' meeting

Pension funds respond to Follow This proposal at Shell shareholders' meeting

Published on: 23 May 2016

Unfortunately, this article is not available in English.