Funds director Monique Groenen wants to interest colleagues for their pension
The meeting of the board of Pensioenfonds Architectenbureaus (Pension Fund Architectural Firms, ed.) always starts with the question: What makes you lie awake at night? Director Monique Groenen – an architect herself – never has to look for an answer to that question as a lot is happening in the industry. The biggest challenge: sparking her colleagues’ interest for their pension. “Nowadays, we just post pictures of buildings with our messages to make sure it gets read.”
She just ordered 150 chairs. These chairs are intended for 150 toddlers who will all be gathered in one large space in their new school in the Brabrant village of Hapert. The (interior) architect Monique Groenen was given the task to design this mega classroom in such a way that the end result is a nice environment to learn and to play with good acoustics. A major challenge, as is the supply of the wood and sheet material needed: the war in Ukraine causes delays and price increases.
Selling Russian shares
As a director of Pensioenfonds Architectenbureaus (on behalf of the employers), Groenen is also confronted with the consequences of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. “We had a board meeting one day prior to the invasion. We always start with a round of: What makes you lie awake at night? I then expressed my concerns regarding the threat in Ukraine and presented the question what a war would mean to our pension fund. The next day, it was actually happening.” During the conference call a few days later, we made the unanimous decision to sell our interests in Russian governments and shares as quickly as possible. “That didn't require a lot of debate.”
Establishing a great pension construction
Architecture and the management of a pension fund: Groenen sees a parallel. “Being an architect, you have to deal with the demands of clients and in the pension world, with the requirements of the law and the social partners. You create a suitable design, together with other parties involved. You then supervise the execution by the ‘contractor’: the administrative organization. That's how you establish a great pension construction for the participants.”
Your participants are architects. What is typical for this professional group?
“We are not only working on behalf of architects. That's a misassumption as we work on behalf of all employees of architectural firms, meaning also for secretaries, illustrators and specification creators, just to name a few. This entails a diversity of professions with, by the way, mainly highly educated people. Architects are passionate about their profession; they do their job with love and enthusiasm. The danger is for clients to start thinking that your work is your hobby, while you obviously also have to make money. But the average architect doesn't really have a businesslike demeanor.”