The new pension system

The new pension system

We are on the way to a new pension system. A pension system that is better suited to the times we live in. But why is the current system no longer good enough? And what will change in the new system? On this page you will find more information about the why, how and when.   

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Income
Collection Contents
10 Publications

House of Representatives passes Future of Pensions bill

Published on: 23 December 2022

On Thursday, December 22, a majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of passing the bill for the Future of Pensions Act (Wtp). It is a positive sign that the government coalition was also able to count on the support of GroenLinks and PvdA, thus potentially also having a majority in the Senate.  

 

The adoption of the bill is good news for participants and employers, as it brings a pension system that meets today’s requirements within reach. As an administrative organization, APG was also looking forward to this news.

CEO Annette Mosman: “To be ready in time for the transition as an administrative organization, it is important that there is clarity about the details of the new system as soon as possible. The passing of the bill for the Future of Pensions Act (Wtp) by the House of Representatives is an important step towards that clarity. We are particularly pleased that the amendments on a collective distribution phase and on broadening the standard method for converting were adopted last Tuesday. Both are important amendments that make the bill more implementable.”

To achieve a House majority for the Future of Pensions Act, 45 amendments and 50 motions had to be voted on. This vote took place on December 22. In doing so, the main amendments and motions of the Green Left and the Labour Party were adopted - a condition of these parties’ support for the bill. These include three amendments aimed at reducing the so-called “white spot” (employees who are not accruing a pension) and a motion on arduous professions. The motion calls on the government to come up with a new early retirement scheme, which will be better at targeting arduous professions, after the current one expires in 2025.

Now that the House of Representatives has agreed, the bill is finalized and can go to the Senate, where the debates on the draft legislation will begin in January. The aim is for the Future of Pensions Act to take effect on July 1, 2023.

Explanation of amendments and motions

An amendment is a proposal by one or more members of the House of Representatives to amend a bill. A motion is a statement by the House of Representatives, proposed by one or more House members and often used to record a conclusion of a debate or an action item for a minister or secretary of state.

  • Three amendments on reducing the “white spot” (workers who are not accruing a pension): To reduce this, it was agreed that workers will begin accruing a pension at age 18 (it is currently 21). The waiting period is being eliminated, reducing pension gaps. A quantitative reduction target is included in the law, to halve the number of workers who are not accruing a pension by January 1, 2028.
  • Motion on arduous professions: requesting the government to come up with a new early retirement scheme that is better at targeting arduous professions, after the current one expires in 2025.
  • Amendment on a collective benefit phase: proposal to allow a collective benefit scheme for the solidarity contract too (as in the flexible contract). To allow equal adjustments of benefits, it is much easier to be able to focus administration on benefits rather than personal pension assets.
  • Amendment on broadening the default method for converting. Two calculation methods are possible for converting pension entitlements under the current pension system to personal pension assets in the new system: the default method and the VBA method. The standard method is the default. But at higher funding ratios, the standard method does not always lead to balanced outcomes. In such a case, funds might still have to opt for the complex VBA method. This amendment provides for a little more leeway in the default method so that this method can also be used at higher funding ratios.

Volgende publicatie:
"Greater chance of increased pension under new system"

“Greater chance of increased pension under new system”

Published on: 9 November 2022

In a letter to the House of Representatives, the five biggest pension funds emphasize that the chances of increased pensions are greater in the new pension system than in the current system. This refutes the criticism of some former politicians and administrators, who last week, advocated putting the new system on hold.


Annette Mosman, chairman of APG’s board of directors, also signed the letter to the MPs. On response to it, she commented, “As the biggest pension administrator in the Netherlands, we also advocate for the new system, as the pension funds do. That is why we must act now so that our pension system will remain among the world’s best in the future and members and pensioners can continue to count on a good pension. It is a huge operation, but as a sector we are putting our shoulders to the wheel. We believe in the benefits of the new system, which we jointly set out in this letter.”

 

Solidarity
The letter writers explain that indexing pensions is difficult now because pension funds under the current system are required to maintain high buffers. Under the Future of Pensions Act, those buffers are no longer mandatory, which actually increases the chances of pensions going up.


One of the core values of the current system, solidarity, is also an important part of the new system. “Together we share risks for a lifelong old-age pension, protection from the financial consequences of disability and protection of surviving relatives in the event of the participant’s death,” write the signatories, which include the CEOs of the five biggest pension funds.


Customization

An important advantage of the new system is that it enables customization. It is always clear to each participant how much personal pension capital has been set aside. Whereas the current system has a uniform pension plan, the personal pension assets in the new system allow participants to determine investment risks appropriate to their age, among other things.

 

The letter writers point out that converting, or “moving” pre-existing pension assets to the new system, is a crucial part of the transition to the new system. Not converting has several disadvantages, including the fact that the collective would then have to be broken up. This will result in a decades-long cost increase at the expense of participants’ and pensioners’ pensions.

 

Improvement

At the conclusion of the letter, the signatories express their conviction that the new system “will lead to an improvement in purchasing power for pensioners in the short term and will provide age-appropriate, transparent and sustainable pension plans for active participants.” They also emphasize understanding the concerns of participants and pensioners and paying attention to them in both decision-making and communication.

 

The entire letter to the House of Representatives can be read on the Pension Federation’s website (in Dutch).

 

Volgende publicatie:
“The introduction of the new pension system is a huge challenge”

“The introduction of the new pension system is a huge challenge”

Published on: 10 October 2022

Who are these people who make a conscious choice to work in the pension sector? What do they do all day for your pension? And what do they enjoy about their work? Let’s take a look behind the scenes. Linda Kleeven (45) is a Business & Information Consultant. “The great thing is that I can be involved during the decision-making as well as the implementation phase.”

 

What does a Business & Information Consultant do exactly?

“I work at the cutting edge of IT and pensions. This sector is undergoing many and ongoing changes both internally as well as in response to legislation and pension regulations, and I focus particularly on how those changes impact people’s entitlements.”

 

And talking about changes; a lot is still to happen with respect to pensions.

“Yes, with the Future Pensions Act, major changes are in the pipeline and all providers are working on this. What’s great is that I can work on two sides. I help think about possible scenarios and solution directions in the decision-making phase. What do these scenarios and solution directions mean exactly for which groups of people and how will these impact feasibility and systems? And once a decision is taken, it also needs to be realized. That’s the other side of my work: I can work on the detail of new regulations and ensure that processes and systems are amended accordingly. This combination is one of the best things about my work. It makes it extremely varied.”

 

What is an average day like for you?

“That’s different each day and that’s exactly what makes my work so great. Each change is a joint process. I usually work with people from different teams. For example, I work with lawyers, actuaries, account managers, and communications advisors during preparation and when we embark on the internal realization, I consult with information analysts, system developers, and project managers. I’m someone who enjoys working in teams toward a certain result, based on content. I can do that really well at APG. And there are also days where I’m only calculating, working through things, devising solutions, and analyzing. So I can express my nerdy side too, which is also fantastic.”

 

How long have you been working at APG?

“Twenty-two years. When I say that out loud I think: really, so long? I never could have imagined that when I first started at the then ABP. But I’ve always been able to develop here in a really natural way. You can do so many different things internally as it’s such a big company. Something new always came across my path, which kept it challenging. Time flies when you’ve got great work and great colleagues.”

 

How did you end up in the pension world? What is your background?

“I did higher education in economics and management. After graduating I was able to start at ABP pension fund, where I’d done an internship. APG didn’t yet exist as an independent pension provider. At that time, you were happy if you could find a job and I saw so many opportunities at such a big organization. I’ve also always thought that pensions were amazing. I started in the surviving dependents’ pensions department, where I had a lot of direct contact with customers. It was an amazing time because I could help people in a difficult phase of their lives. That immediately motivates you to do your work really well. I kept developing from there; from pension administration to testing pension details and systems to describing calculation rules. There were also always so many possibilities to follow all kinds of training and courses. When APG was established and we also started managing pensions for PWRI and later bpfBOUW, this all needed to be entered into the systems. It was fantastic to be part of such change processes. With the new pension scheme approaching and with a lot changing at once, all that experience will come in handy.”

 

How do people respond when you tell them what kind of work you do?

“That depends, but I see lots of people thinking, hmm, interesting... not.”

 

What do you like so much about your work?

“That it’s so varied. The Business Improvement & Change department I work in now is busy with changes. So, by definition, we are always working on something different here. That could be a change based on legislation and regulations that applies to all funds, or it could concern an internal improvement, or a fund-specific change that you need to communicate well to your target group. That variation is what makes it so enjoyable. I can imagine that it appears to be a boring field for outsiders, but it’s surprisingly dynamic.”

 

What motivates you?

“For me, it’s also important to work on something I believe in. It’s a fantastic thing to have a level of income security if you become disabled, older, or for your surviving dependents if you die. I personally consider collectivity and solidarity in our pension system to be vital, as is sharing risks together. I hope this remains the case in the future too: That’s really important to me.”

 

What characteristics make you suitable for this job?

“It helps that I have a feeling for producing analyses and calculations. But I think the most important thing is that I can empathize with people and connect well with different types of people. Actuaries, lawyers, and account managers all have completely different perceptions than system developers and project managers. My department is in the middle and we try to ensure that they understand each other and don’t talk at cross purposes.”

 

What do you do in your spare time?

“When I’m not working, I’m often on my bike. Usually on the racing bike but I have a kind of mountain bike for the winter. That’s my main hobby and a way to let off steam. If you do office work, you sit a lot and you work mainly with your head. Being outdoors and doing physical exercise provides a kind of balance. And I need to exercise, too, because I also really enjoy good food. Fortunately, I simply love cycling. I often go on vacation to the Dolomites or the Austrian mountain passes; it’s so stunning there. Trust me: When you’re battling up a mountain, pensions is the last thing on your mind.”

 

In what way is your work visible to pension participants?

“Ultimately, more indirectly than directly, I help ensure that they get what they are entitled to, can apply for their pensions on time, and are well supported in this.”

 

Where are the challenges for you in the coming period?

“The new pension act means a lot is changing at once. The act should take effect as of January 1, 2023, and we have until 2027 to make the switch. For APG, this doesn’t only mean a transition to a new pension scheme, but also the transition to a new policy and capital administration for all our funds. We already know some things for sure and we can assess the impact of these and determine what we need to do. But there are still so many things that are uncertain. We need to work with scenarios and hypotheses. What are we expecting and what if this or that were to happen? We’re already working on this, in the knowledge that things actually may need to be quite different in the final version. Anything you can do now, you should do, otherwise the deadline will never be feasible. What is sometimes forgotten is that we also need to inform pension participants a long time in advance about what the changes will mean for them. You can’t say to someone who is retiring on January 1, that we’ll tell you then what choices you have and that you’ll get this amount. Such a system change has never previously taken place. That does make me feel nervous but in a good way, too. It’s a huge challenge that hopefully won’t become a nightmare.”

Volgende publicatie:
Henriette Honée appointed Manager Customer Cluster ABP/PWRI at APG

Henriette Honée appointed Manager Customer Cluster ABP/PWRI at APG

Published on: 28 September 2022

As of November 1, Henriette Honée will lead the customer cluster ABP/PWRI within the Fund Operations. She succeeds Raoul Willms, who has been appointed director of the Diagnostics & Advice unit at Maastricht UMC.

 

Henriette has been working at APG since 2019 as Business Owner FB/DWS and Head of Portfolio office. In this position she quickly got to know APG broadly. The collaboration with ABP is an important spearhead in her position.

 

Henriette: “In the transition to the new pension system, collaboration is more important than ever. This means that I want to focus on further professionalizing the collaboration and strengthening the relationship with ABP. So that we can realize a successful transition together.”

 

Sijmon Timmers, director of Fund Operations APG: “Henriette brings a lot of experience with her. She has also been part of the ABP customer team since her start at APG, which has enabled her to get to know ABP well as a customer. We look forward to her arrival and wish Henriette good luck and fun.”

 

Volgende publicatie:
“Festina Finance enables APG to make a huge step forward”

“Festina Finance enables APG to make a huge step forward”

Published on: 21 June 2022

APG will develop a new system for the policy and capital administration in collaboration with the Danish company Festina Finance. Francine van Dierendonck, member of the Board of Directors of APG, explains the reasons for choosing the relatively small FinTech company and what her expectations are in relation to the collaboration.

The system to be developed is necessary because of the transition to the new pension system. Instead of a so-called Defined Benefit system with fixed payments, the Netherlands will be switching to a collective Defined Contribution system. This means the pension amount depends on the contributions paid and the investment returns realized. “We decided to invest in a new system, as this means a huge step forward in terms of technology, speed and flexibility", says Van Dierendonck.
 

Festina Finance does not belong to the major IT system houses, but is a small, specialized FinTech company. Is that choice not representing a risk?
“Every scenario involves risks, even if we would have developed the new system in-house. The existing risks are under control. We have seen Festina Finance execute an extremely successful implementation at PensionDanmark (large Danish pension fund, ed.). The Danish pension system is already further on its path towards a Defined Contribution system than the Netherlands, so PensionDanmark is a good example. Based on the proof of concept and the collaboration with Festina Finance in the past six months, we are convinced the company, together with us, is able to implement their system in a superior way. Moreover, we will also integrate the software delivered by Festina Finance in-house. The new system is developed under the supervision of their experts, but we will eventually do it ourselves. This means we are not infinitely depending on Festina Finance and a lot will still be in our own hands.”

Can a small party, such as Festina Finance, stand up to a large player like APG should the Danish company deem this necessary?
“Absolutely, but the good news is that the majority of the software components we need have already been built for the implementation at PensionDanmark. I have attended a session myself during which specialists of APG and Festina Finance collaborated enthusiastically at the interface of the pension scheme and IT. And I have not witnessed anyone sitting silently in a corner.

Is that also an example of the cultural fit between both organizations, what was one of the reasons to choose Festina Finance?
“Sure, I believe the employees of both organizations get along really well and we may conclude that the Danish and Dutch culture are really not that different. Another thing is that the pension systems of both countries belong to the absolute best.” 

You could compare the system of Festina Finance with LEGO blocks.

The choice for Festina Finance was also made because they would offer ‘state of the art’ technology. Can you give us some examples?
“The system they offer is structured completely modular. You could compare it with LEGO blocks. One LEGO block can be, for example, that the child of a deceased participant receives an orphan's pension until he or she reaches the age of 18. Another block can ensure that the orphan's pension continues until he or she reaches the age of 21 when the child is demonstrably enrolled in a study. This already involves two LEGO blocks. That's how we build the pension scheme entirely with blocks in a modular system. Festina Finance has built its software low-code. You usually don't have to touch the Java code, the actual blocks, behind it. The only thing that needs to be done, is programming the blocks in the correct order. And those blocks already exist as the schemes in Denmark and the Netherlands demonstrate a high degree of similarity. That provides us with the ability to implement the adjustments based on legislation, expected as of 2023, rather late in the process in a controlled manner. We believe that will buy us some time. The system is also flexible and fast, offering us the opportunity to properly monitor the audit trail, which is important for compliance.”

Does the fact that the system is low-code and flexible have consequences for the employment opportunities at APG?
“Not for the near future at least, because we still have a lot to accomplish together. We still need our current systems GPS and Lifetime for a long time. We expect to use the three systems side by side until at least 2030 and maybe even longer. The system of Festina Finance requires different skills, more configuration, less writing of code. We have agreed with the Works Council that we give everyone the opportunity to retrain their skills. But for the coming years we need more people for the pension administration, rather than less.”

Finally, what are your expectations and hope for the collaboration with Festina Finance from the perspective of your position as member of the Board of Directors?
I expect us to make a huge step forward with Festina Finance, mainly in the transition to the new pension scheme and in the speed of that transition. In addition, I have high expectations when it comes to further automating our processes. That is important for the quality we deliver and that participants experience in, for example, the speed of our service provision. Further automation enables us to keep our basic service provision in order in terms of costs and at the same time creates time and space to make the difference towards participants and employers. We are now gradually making that shift and I hope that in approximately 2.5 years’ time we will be able to show for the first time what our new service provision looks like: qualitatively faster and with more attention and budgetary space for personal service to participants and employers.”


Read the press release of APG and Festina Finance here
.

Volgende publicatie:
“By July we will know how feasible the new system is”

“By July we will know how feasible the new system is”

Published on: 17 May 2022

Next year, the rules for a new, future-proof pension system are expected to take effect. But in the meantime, much work remains to be done. Where do we stand? And what’s in store for the next eight months? Tinka den Arend, strategic policy officer at APG, takes us through the process that will culminate in a future-proof pension system on January 1, 2023.

 

 

Where are we, on the road to the new system in 2023?
“Carola Schouten - the Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions - submitted the Future Pensions Bill to the House of Representatives on March 30, 2022. This bill forms the basis for the new system in broad lines. Last year, a draft of the bill was already known. This draft has now been amended on the basis of 800 reactions during a public consultation, tests by advisory bodies and the advice of the Council of State.  Now that the bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives, the next item is the Social Affairs and Employment Committee. This will be followed by the plenary debate.  

The Commission first organized two roundtable discussions, in which it collected the opinions of experts and interest groups. The first discussion, with 18 experts, took place on April 22. The roundtable with the interest groups was held on May 10.”

What kind of experts and interest groups should we think of?

“They are mostly scientists, such as Kees Goudswaard (professor of economics and endowed professor of social security at Leiden University, ed.), Casper van Ewijk (professor of macroeconomics at the University of Amsterdam, ed.) and Bas Werker (professor of econometrics and finance at Tilburg University, ed.). But people from the field are also participating, such as Agnes Joseph, an actuary at Achmea. The interest groups include employers’ associations such as VNO-NCW, trade unions - CNV, FNV - and senior citizens’ associations such as KBO Brabant.”

How does such a roundtable discussion work?

“Each participant has submitted a position paper in advance, outlining their views in a concise manner. During the roundtable discussion, each participant is given a few minutes to explain and defend these positions. This is followed by a conversation between members of parliament and participants, in which members of parliament can ask further questions.”  
   

How do participants know if the House committee is doing anything with their input?

“They don’t know that right away. But if you look at the parliamentary questions about the submitted Future of Pensions Act to the cabinet after the April 22 meeting, you can see a lot of the input from experts in it.”

Can you give an example of input that we have seen reflected in Parliamentary questions?

“An important example is the input from Casper van Ewijk, Bas Werker, Theo Nijman, WTW and Ortec on the entry method. During the entry process, pension entitlements accrued under the old pension system are converted into pension entitlements under the new system. In this case it means that the collective assets of a pension fund are converted into personal pension assets for participants. The Future of Pensions Act offers a choice between two methods for this: the VB-ALM method and the standard method. The experts rightly note that the VB-ALM method is not useful for this purpose. Because when using this method, you have to make arbitrary assumptions. By definition, these therefore become open to discussion. And since the outcome of the VB-ALM method is very sensitive to those assumptions, there is a good chance that legal disputes will arise. In any case, it is not advisable to use two methods.”

Why not?

By definition, one method will work out better for one group and another method for another group. After all, if a fund chooses the standard method, for example, there are always participants who will wonder how much their pension entitlements would have been when using the VB-ALM method. It is more advisable for each fund to use the same entry method. And the standard method is the most suitable for this, partly because it is easier to implement and the results are easier to explain to participants and other stakeholders. This method does, however, require more leeway to be able to compensate for disproportionately negative effects.”

Are there any other examples of such input?

“The Dutch Pension Federation and the Association of Insurers have drawn attention to the feasibility of the new rules for survivor’s pensions. In order to be able to guide participants in their choices at the right time, pension administrators need information from the UWV. This will prevent participants from falling between the cracks, for example after a period of unemployment. This point of attention was also adopted by many members of Parliament in their questions to the minister.”

When will we know the extent to which the bill will be amended?

“We will probably know this by July 2022. More will gradually be known about the content of the possible changes in the near future. The written questions submitted to the minister on April 26 run to 108 pages. A number of them, including the questions about the VB-ALM method and data exchange, are being asked by many groups. There could be some changes in the bill on those points, but whether that happens remains to be seen. The Cabinet can still modify the bill with amendment bills and the House of Representatives can also amend the bill itself. If the bill is adopted by the House of Representatives, the legislative text will then be fixed and the bill will go to the Senate. The Senate can adopt or reject the bill, but can no longer amend it.

In addition, there will probably also be changes to the secondary legislation, which will flesh out the bill in more detail. Consultation has also taken place in this regard, which has resulted in 44 responses. We expect clarity about the final secondary legislation no later than January 1, 2023.”

Will that date of January 1, 2023 be met?

“The government seems to be pulling out all the stops to meet this date, but at the same time you can see that the House of Representatives attaches importance to a thorough debate. So far, the one does not exclude the other, but this requires a lot of effort from both parties. From APG’s perspective, we have an interest in both timely and careful consideration. From our perspective, enforceability and explainability are particularly essential. It will be interesting to see whether the choices that are made contribute to feasibility and explicability.”

Volgende publicatie:
“It is our joint responsibility to improve confidence in our pension system”

“I enjoy providing leadership in a context of uncertainties”

Published on: 31 March 2022

Just under three more years and then the first pension fund will transfer to the new system. This transition must run smoothly for all parties – employers, participants and funds. That is why 2022 for APG is fully dominated by execution, says APG’s CEO Annette Mosman. “The most important thing is that we first get the primary process in order. That has to be done right the first time. It is the litmus test of the new pension system.” 

 

“2021 was the last year APG could afford to talk about preparing for the new pension agreement. This year is all about implementation,” says, APG’s CEO Annette Mosman. “As we speak, the bill is in the House of Representatives for approval. The transition to the new pension system is therefore becoming a reality. And now it’s our turn. You can feel that in every fiber of our organization. We’ve thought about it for a long time, we’ve helped create the law, and now we have to renovate our house while the store stays open.”

And meanwhile, 2022 has begun very dramatically. What is the impact of that on you, on the organization?
“Everything is relative when you see what is happening now in Ukraine. That affects me as a person and it affects our employees. There are people working at APG who are from Ukraine, people with relatives there and we have Russian colleagues as well. It affects the organization as a whole, but it also affects the energy prices we all pay, our economy, our investments, cybersecurity. But most of all, it is a humanitarian disaster that is happening right now.”

What is number one on the 2022 priority list?
“For APG and our pension fund clients, the first priority is obviously the Pension of the Future. In the next six months, we will be making agreements with our clients about which fund will be transferred when. Before we transfer the first fund on January 1, 2025, there is still a great deal of preparation to be done. This includes, for example, the implementation of the policy administration and the entry process, but also the development of our employees’ competencies. And secondly: last year was an excellent investment year. We can be proud of APG’s leading position as a responsible investor. But that position is under pressure. Clients and society are demanding more speed on sustainability issues. So, we have to move. In a smart way. By focusing on and accelerating the digitization of our operations. And by making clear choices on the theme of responsible investment, together with our fund clients.

Finally, we need to move even more toward a single APG. We must learn more from each other’s areas of expertise. With the new pension contract, we are seeing asset management and pension management increasingly converging. They used to be two separate, specialist fields. Our magnificent new working environment, EDGE West, helps in this respect. Literally. I spoke to a colleague who now works there and he told me: ‘I’ve been with APG for fifteen years now, but in one week I’ve already met more coworkers than in I did in recent years.’ That’s wonderful. The new APG is starting with the direct collaboration between people.”

The road to the new system is complex. Many parties with different interests. A system that has not yet been worked out in detail. How difficult is it to find your way in it as an administrator?​​​​​​​
“Clear choices’ is the theme of the annual report and that really means that we have made, had to make, clear choices and have put some things on the backburner. We are continuing to experiment; we are continuing to think about new propositions in terms of the financial fitness of the participant. But the most important thing now is to first get the primary process in order. We are going to convert 1,700 billion euros for the transition in the Netherlands. That has to be done right the first time. It is the litmus test for the new pension system. It is crucial for our pension fund clients and their participants that the pots are calculated correctly.”

But are you going to be able to figure that out together?“We work for eight funds. Each fund has its own ambitions and different emphases. Whether it’s data quality, their new client missions or improving ‘my pension’. But that is no small feat, because everyone wants their full agenda accomplished. However, there is also a clear common goal: a smooth and controlled transition to the new pension system. In which we promote the interests of all participants in the best possible way.”

The fact is that not everything is known about the new system yet. How do you lead that process?
“We have a lot of expertise at APG. Still, it is not easy, because we have never before had to face a period in which we had to make such important decisions, while the picture has not yet crystallized. You may call the context we are operating in unclear, but I don’t see it that way. There are always uncertainties. I actually enjoy providing leadership in a context of uncertainties. For me, the glass is usually half full. And besides: there is a lot we do know. We know what the law stands for, we know the direction it is going in. You can also be the master of your own destiny in that process.”

Administrative calm is crucial in this respect, Mosman points out. “We have a stable executive board, which was also involved in the formulation of the strategy in this composition and really lived through it. That also applies to the majority of the leadership team. And that administrative calm is also there because of the good relationship with the Works Council, the Supervisory Board and the shareholders. I am genuinely pleased that the relationships with these important stakeholders has improved and been strengthened. We have achieved this through intensive and genuine contact, in which we have not avoided difficult discussions and dilemmas.”

APG will take on more of the characteristics of a technology- and data-driven as well as participant-oriented organization

2021 was your first year as board chair. Are you satisfied with how things are going?“Satisfied?” Laughs, “I’m never quite satisfied. But to be honest: I can look back on a challenging year that has also been a very good year. It was a year in which our strategy was approved; that was an important milestone. And at the end of 2021, there was the decision to set up our policy on equity administration in collaboration with an external party, Festina Finance. We are taking the leap forward with the very latest technology, in the interests of participants and funds. And I am feeling very confident about that.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge?​​​​​​​“The labor market. Finding good people. We have very good people at APG, but the enormity of the work that is coming our way is really a big challenge. That is also the reason we are entering into more partnerships, such as working with an external party on the entry process.”

The system is changing, and so is APG. Can you paint a picture of the administrator that will be required in the new system?
“APG will take on more of the characteristics of a technology- and data-driven as well as participant-oriented organization. Of course, we must continue to excel in investing and administering. Those will always be important competencies. But the focus will shift to the front end. We are moving towards a system in which there is more uncertainty among participants. As a pension sector, we will have to explain more. We are therefore becoming more of a communications company. We’ve already taken steps in that direction, but the shift will really continue in the next few years. In any case, change is the new constant. I am convinced of that. We are now focusing on this transition, but we will have to continuously improve and develop in all areas as an organization.”

2025 is three years away. Will APG be the organization you envision by then? Isn’t that a bit too soon?
“We have been able to excel by being a specialist in the field of administration and investment. The coming transition will demand a lot from the organization and its people. But I’ve also come to know APG as an organization that can switch gears surprisingly quickly. Whether it’s the start of the corona crisis, where we had to switch to working from home in one weekend, or the global Log4j vulnerability, which we also had to arm ourselves against at the end of 2021: the moment there is a crisis, everyone goes into ‘we can do this’ mode. Because people here are so driven. Everyone works with passion for the pension funds, and for the participants. Whatever we have to do, we’re there for it. And that gives me the confidence that things will turn out all right.”

You prefer to talk about a change program rather than a culture program. Why?
“I’m cautious with the term culture program, because changing culture is something you do every day. In the past year I have tried to communicate a lot, with this guiding principle: make it concrete. But there are limits to that. I can’t make it more concrete for every employee. It’s also about enabling employees and managers to translate the situation into their own work. Unfortunately, I can’t have individual conversations with 3,000 people. For me, the most important thing is still to offer the promising perspective and to give confidence: we are all in this together.”

 

Collectivity remains an essential element in the new system as well. Why do you think that’s so important?
“If I look at myself: I’m 55 and only now am I starting to think about what I’ll be like in ten years. What about my house, my current mortgage? And I’m not the only one in this position. For many people, the horizon is too short to make significant changes. So that’s why I think accruing a pension through your employer, and especially its compulsory nature, is so important. My children will now be ‘forced’ to save, or rather invest, for their future. You may call that paternalistic, but I wasn’t doing it when I was young and they are not doing it now either. The fact that it will be mandatory for them means that they will also be able to have a good life in their old age. That’s what makes our system so great.”

But the reconstruction was badly needed.
“It is not surprising that this system needs to be renewed after a hundred years. After all, a lot has changed. We no longer work for a single employer our entire lives, we are increasingly living longer, many people are self-employed, whether temporarily or for their entire career. We are certainly aware that for some time now there has been little or no possibility of indexation, so the limits of the system are already being felt by current pensioners. And with this step, we will be able to take that yoke off the old system and give us the opportunities to be able to invest a bit more broadly. It is often said that the new system will make things simpler. But for the participant it is simpler to know: I get a thousand euros a month. Now we are saying: this is what you get now, but that may change depending on the economic situation. That’s why communication with the participant is more important than ever. Really getting to know the participants, where their concerns lie, is becoming crucial.”

So, isn’t it time to prepare the participant?
“Yes, absolutely. We have a duty to prepare participants for the transition to the new system. But I also think that it will only become really concrete for them when they are informed about exactly how the changes will affect them individually. That is when it will become relevant. And then there will certainly be a lot of questions. Fortunately, we have innovations such as Kandoor, which received a million questions last year, but also Geldvinder and Prikkl. These are initiatives that contribute to timely thinking about income for now and for the future. In recent years we have invested a lot in these initiatives, so that we can be ready when the time comes.”


But isn’t it mostly about trust? As a participant, you suddenly get a different pot of money. Is it correct, how can I be sure my fund is managing it properly? How do you get ahead of questions like that?
“I see it as a joint responsibility of government, social partners, pension funds and administrators to improve trust in our pension system.

We have a special role in this as the largest pension administrator in the Netherlands. We help everyone, we facilitate, and we provide the calculations behind the proposals. And later we will ensure a controlled transition to the new system, with solid pension administration and excellent investment results. We also have a responsibility to properly explain the changes that will affect participants. Clear communication to the participant is a precondition for confidence in the new system. But the trust must also be created among the social partners, i.e. employees and employers. Decisions on how each pot in each pension fund is distributed across the generations - the average system - are made by the social partners. They will have to make the right choices. And, incidentally, I have every confidence that they will.”

 

 

Curious about the entire APG Annual Report 2021? Read it here as a PDF or go to the special website.

Volgende publicatie:
Bill on new pension system sent to House of Representatives

Bill on new pension system sent to House of Representatives

Published on: 30 March 2022

The legislative proposal for the new pension system in the Netherlands was presented to the House of Representatives today. The House of Representatives will consider the bill in the coming period, after which it will go to the Senate. If both agree, the rules will take effect on January 1, 2023. Pension funds will then have until 2027 to switch to the new system.

 

The bill, which is called the “Future of Pensions Act”, stems from the pension agreement that was entered into in 2019 after over ten years of negotiations. In the new pension system, pensions will move with the economy more easily. Fewer large buffers will have to be built up, bringing the prospect of indexation closer. Members will also gain more insight and clarity about the pension they have accrued. There will also be new rules for survivor’s pensions.

 

Planning

Now that the bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives, the lower regulations - the further details of the bill - will also be made public. The aim is for the Act to be published in the Staatsblad on January 1, 2023, whereupon the rules will officially go into effect. Whether that date will be met is not certain. “It is quite possible that the Senate or the House of Representatives will need more time to pass judgment on the proposals,” says Wim Koeleman, director of Pension of the Future at APG. Koeleman is pleased that the proposal is on the table. “It marks the beginning of a new phase in the system change. But there is still a lot of work to be done. We will be intensively studying the proposal and the lower regulations in the coming period. APG will pay extra attention to the feasibility of the new system.”

 

Lump sum

One of the new rules of the new system, the option of withdrawing a maximum of 10 percent of your retirement pension in one lump sum at the time of retirement, was supposed to take effect on January 1, 2023. But that seems too soon. The Pension Federation and the Association of Insurers are urging Minister Schouten to postpone the effective date to at least July 1, 2023. Any sooner would not be feasible.

 

Suspenseful

If the new pension law takes effect, pension funds, together with administrators, employers and unions, will have until January 1, 2027 to adapt pension schemes to the new legislation. Koeleman is well aware that this will be an immense operation. “That is why APG, APG’s pension fund clients and the social partners (employers and employees) have already made a start with the implementation, based on a draft version of the law. We are certainly very anxious to see the changes.”

 

 

Volgende publicatie:
“In the preparations for the new system, young people are less able to make their voices heard”

“In the preparations for the new system, young people are less able to make their voices heard”

Published on: 24 February 2022

APG’s Lars Aussems in Financial Investigator on how youngster-proof the new pension system is

 

How do young professionals perceive the new pension system? And what will be changing for younger pension fund participants, taking the current state of affairs as a starting point? Financial Investigator provided an answer to these questions in an online article. The article portrayed, among others, Lars Aussems, Project Manager within APG’s program Pension of the Future. “In the preparations for the new system, young people are less able to make their voices heard. And that gives me cause for some concern.”

Pension continues to be something of the future for young people. They don't follow the discussions regarding the new pension system, but are focusing on other matters such as study, income, obtaining a house and making it through the pandemic.
Financial Investigator asked eight young professionals in the reasonably aging pension industry about their visions on the changes to the pension system. What are the changes young people need to consider? And is the new pension system youngster-proof?

Sharing risks

Lars Aussems sees many good sides to the new pension system for young people. “The positive aspects of the current collective system remain intact. That's something to point out to young people. We have something great; it is there when you need it and the principle of collectivity remains unchanged. Together you share the risks you won't be able to bear on your own.”

An important improvement, in particular also for young people, is that the new pension system assumes a personal pension capital, Aussems continues. “That provides a solution for the current concerns among young people that there won't be any pension left for them to benefit from in the future. It shows there will be capital available to them. The abolition of the average system also is a positive change. It ensures a fairer redistribution among younger and older people and will result in the new situation in a better alignment with the flexibilization of the labor market.”

Cause for concern
The Project Manager Pension of the Future also indicates that, from the perspective of young people, there is also cause for concern. “The constituencies of the trade unions have a weightier voice than young people when it comes to the balance of interests. Older people are overrepresented in these groups. Young people generally show little to no interest in pension and also not a lot of motivation to deepen their knowledge. That is mainly reflected in the considerable under-presentation of young people in the management boards of pension funds and accountability bodies. In all of those preparations for the new system, young people are therefore less able to make their voices heard. And that gives me cause for some concern being a pension professional, but also as a younger person.”

 

The conclusions drawn by Financial Investigator after talking to Lars Aussems and the seven other professionals, can be read in the article Young professionals over jongeren en het nieuwe pensioenstelsel (Young professionals on young people and the new pension system).

Volgende publicatie:
“There is still insufficient attention on issues around implementation”

“There is still insufficient attention on issues around implementation”

Published on: 20 January 2022

What developments will we see this year as far as the Dutch pension agreement is concerned? And what happened in this regard last year? Peter Gortzak, Director of the Implementation Policy at APG, is anxious to see whether the House of Representatives will be presenting sweeping changes to the pension agreement in the coming months.

 

2021 was an important year for the pension agreement in the Dutch polder. "There has been a lot of work behind the scenes by steering committees and others on legislative texts for the new pension system," Gortzak says. "Those legal texts were never intended for the public, so the Council of State (RvS) could issue an opinion on them without outside pressure. This has been achieved and the Council of State is now looking at the texts. If the schedule is met, the House of Representatives will be able to deliberate on them as of April.”

 

Suspenseful
Whereas last year was marked by behind-the-scenes meetings on legislative texts, this year those texts are coming out into the open. This means that a number of issues are becoming quite suspenseful. For example, there is the question of whether the government will succeed in placing the final legislative text in the Staatsblad in January of 2023, after it has been discussed in parliament. In the coming period, the opinions of the Council of State and APG, among others, will become known and thus part of the public debate.


Gortzak: “There are still adjustments to be made to the legislative text, such as the way in which the survivor's pension will be entered and the calculation methodology to be applied. And also the wording of the lower regulations, without which the legislative proposals cannot be properly assessed. On the other hand, there is also the fear of proposals for amendment being too easy and populist-based. It is extremely complicated legislation and there are only a handful of people who have the full overview. As a result, a member of parliament may single out issues that seem easy and lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, one of the principles of the pension agreement was that pensions should be easier to explain. But the House of Representatives will soon see that the right of citizens to object to pensions has been scrapped. That is easy to explain, but it obviously feels like a right that is being taken away. All in all, it's going to be interesting to see whether MPs come up with far-reaching changes and whether the explainability of the subject of pensions will receive sufficient attention.”

 

Implementability

Gortzak believes that another important topic this year will be the importance of the implementability of legislation. “The last two years there has been an awful lot of attention on implementing bodies such as the UWV, the SVB and especially the Tax Authority. According to the general opinion, politics has paid too little attention to the consequences of complex legislation. I hope that members of parliament have learned from previous excesses and, when assessing the new pension act, also take into account the feasibility of everything they think up. This is something we at APG would really like to warn against. Because even though a lot of hard work has been done on legislation behind the scenes, in my opinion the implementation problems have not yet been looked at properly. That is a particular concern. It is really important that members of parliament, in the event of any changes to the legislative text, ask themselves how it will affect the implementability of the new pension system.”