“For me, as a trainee, this is one big candy store”

Published on: 7 March 2022

Who are these people who choose to work in the pension sector? What do they do all day for your pension? And what do they like about their work? We are taking you behind the scenes.

Zakaria Driouech (26) is a Finance & Risk trainee at APG. “As a trainee you are immediately given a lot of responsibility, which really surprised me.”


What exactly do you do as a Finance & Risk trainee?

“An internship at APG means that for two years you will carry out various assignments within Asset Management. There are various tracks, such as digital, quant, investment and portfolio. Because risk management appealed to me the most, I opted for the finance & risk track. That’s where you get to work with financial and operational risks.”


What is risk management? How do you manage risks?

“Risk management is a broad concept. At APG, various teams deal with it. There is asset risk, for example, which identifies the financial risks associated with current and potential investments. There is also a team that focuses on operational risks. It doesn't look so at the financial picture so much, but at the qualitative aspects of a possible investment: what are the business operations like, what is the management like, what is the reputation in a broad sense? Others assess the models used within APG to predict possible returns, for example. Are those models doing what they are supposed to do, are they suitable for the purposes they are used for?”


And what do you do in concrete terms?

As a trainee, you rotate. The first period I was in client risk. There it was my job to test risk models to see whether they are doing what they are supposed to do and whether the predictions approach reality within the limits. It was a lot of fun; I got to apply all kinds of skills that I had acquired during my studies in econometrics.”


And where are you now?

“At enterprise risk management. This department oversees the risks of business operations. A hypothetical example: suppose that the investment department accidentally invests in a company that is on the list of companies in which no investments are allowed. This would have to be reported according to the rules. If this does not happen, there is a chance that APG could suffer damage to its reputation, or that irresponsible investments could be made, possibly resulting in financial damage. I researched fraud risks and how best to identify them. I thought it was cool to learn about this operational side of risk management as well.”

What do you like about your traineeship?

“I’m gaining a lot of knowledge and experience and getting a good picture of what APG does in a broad sense. What I like most is that you have to network within the company to get your next assignment. That way you can keep challenging yourself. You would think that as a trainee you are not allowed to do very much, but nothing is less true. You're given a lot of responsibility straight away; you're actually fully involved. That really surprised me. And by experiencing it all, I can really discover what suits me best.”


And so far, which team is the best fit for you?

“I’ve gained surprising insights from the two teams I’ve been on so far, but to be perfectly honest I’m still convinced I want to go into the asset risk side of things. That’s where I will be doing my last assignment; something I’m really looking forward to.”


But didn’t you ever think, the pension sector is incredibly boring?

“I used to think that, but when someone from APG came to give a guest lecture during my studies, a world opened up for me. It is much more dynamic and challenging than I thought. Especially the field I'm in now, asset management, is far from boring. APG has many large investment projects in it. For me it’s like one big candy store. I have never been bored for a second.”

APG is not just in the business of making money, but is also really contributing something to the world

You could have worked at a bank instead. What made you choose pensions?

“Yes, I considered banking, that was definitely on my list and I even got an offer there. But once I went for an interview at APG, I was immediately sold. It was a good match on several levels. They offer so many opportunities in risk management, the area that interests me. I also think it's important that APG is not just about making money, like banks, but that it also really contributes something to the world. I was attracted to that social involvement.”


What motivates you, what are your incentives?

“I hope to be able to make a difference in overseeing the risks involved in investments, in order to be able to offer a good and safe pension to all participants. I like the fact that we do everything we can for the pensions of so many Dutch people.”


What do customers notice about your work in concrete terms?

“Indirectly, they will ultimately find that their pensions are being accrued in a safe way.”


What characteristics make you suitable for this job?

“I am very eager to learn, ambitious and have a lot of perseverance. That’s a good match with the challenges that APG has to offer.”


What do you do in your spare time?

“I like to work out. I do fitness at the rec center, indoor soccer... And I spend a lot of time with family and friends.”


What do your friends and family think of you working in the pension world?

“Well, I think everyone around me has a dusty image of the pension industry. But then when I tell them what APG Asset Management is involved in, the investments they make and the scope of it, they quickly become impressed. It’s such a huge player, they don’t expect that. My father works in education and other family members are also accruing their pensions with ABP, one of our clients. They sometimes joke about whether their pension is in good hands. I always tell them that their pensions couldn't be in better hands than APG’s.”

Do you want to know more about available traineeships at APG? You can find more information here!