“Half of all Dutch households are financially vulnerable”

Published on: 13 June 2022

Who are these people who deliberately choose to work in the retirement industry? What do they do there all day for your retirement? And what do they like about their work? We take you behind the scenes to take a look.

Stan Russell (30) is senior engagement manager at Geldvinder. Along with his team it is their mission to make everyone in the Netherlands financially fitter. “Personal finance is still a bit of a taboo subject.”


What is Geldvinder?

“An online financial platform within APG, with which employers can help their employees structure and improve their finances in an accessible way. Think of it as an online financial coach. Users start with a fit test to map out their income and expenses, buffer and risks, assets and debt as well as their retirement savings. This results in a certain fit score of between 0 and 100, which provides information about someone’s financial situation. It gives a very accurate picture. You shouldn’t see the score as a conclusion, but rather as a starting point from which you can set your financial goals. Some goals are easier to achieve than others; sometimes you work on several goals at the same time. Because people’s financial situations change quite a bit, Geldvinder aims to guide users in the long run.


What is APG's interest in this?

“APG started this because the retirement saving system is changing. It is no longer one size fits all, people are increasingly gaining more insight into their own retirement savings. On the one hand, it is a good thing but on the other hand, it also comes with more responsibility. APG believes it is important to help their clients with this. Of all four financial domains in Geldvinder, people score the lowest on retirement savings. That is partly because of ignorance. We want to offer clear, reliable information so that participants can make good choices. Because making the wrong decisions about financial matters can have devastating consequences. Geldvinder is a non-profit start-up with no commercial partners, and that is quite unique. The details you fill in are also not shared with third parties. Employers can see what their employees have filled in and where their challenges lie, but they can’t see it at an individual level. So far it has been a tremendous success. In the first year, about 20 percent of employees with which we cooperate were using the platform.”

Geldvinder is a non-profit start-up with no commercial partners, and that is quite unique

What does a senior engagement manager do exactly?

“On the one hand, I maintain contact with organizations that are affiliated with Geldvinder. On the other hand, I give presentations at qualifying organizations to find out whether Geldvinder can complement their vitality policies.”


How did you get into the world of retirement?

“Via LinkedIn. My current boss, who I already knew, posted something about Geldvinder and I thought it sounded interesting. I applied for the position and started a year and a half later. In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, yes. I have only met my direct colleagues in person a few times, which is kind of crazy.”


What is your background?

“At first I was working as a recruiter for consultants, focusing on innovation. An enormous niche, but it taught me a great deal about innovation. At some point, I no longer wanted to serve those who make a change, but I wanted to make the change to the content myself.”


Working in the retirement industry doesn’t really seem very sexy?

“I can imagine that people might think that; it's not the best opening line at a party. But actually, the opposite is true, for me at least. At a start-up in a large corporate such as this one, you can do a lot of experimentation and innovation. I like the fact that on the one hand I can still speak to new people and on the other hand be involved in developing a platform. I can get involved in everything. That’s what’s so great about a start-up. In addition, communication lines are short and I work with resourceful people who are just as motivated to let our platform grow.”

What motivates you in your work?

“Personal finance is still a bit of a taboo subject. It is a difficult topic to discuss openly. When giving a presentation, I notice at the beginning that people find it difficult to talk about the topic, while afterward there is an avalanche of examples from HR departments. That is what I still like best about it. We literally make it possible to talk about finances in the workplace. It gives me energy. Moreover, I really believe in Geldvinder. The fact that it was built up from so much knowledge and expertise by users and organizations, makes Geldvinder unique.”


Why is financial fitness so important?

"50 percent of Dutch households are financially vulnerable, and 33 percent of these households do not make financial plans. These are frightening numbers. While we know just by making small adjustments can eventually make a huge difference. People tend to distinguish between mental and physical fitness, I think that’s an outdated approach. Many people don’t only exercise for their physical well-being, but also for feeling good mentally. Finances are part of this. If you have money troubles, it affects the way you feel. Many people will probably think: What does my employer have to do with my personal matters? But private and work-related matters are not so easily separated as they once were, you take your private life to work and vice versa. Worries don’t just disappear once you walk into the office. Therefore, it is also relevant for employers to focus on the vitality of their employees.”


How financially fit are you, exactly?

“The first time I scored something like 42, which is really terrible. I suppose you can say it’s a case of the shoemaker’s son going barefoot. My income and expenses were insanely out of balance, I did a lot of stupid things. For example, I had subscriptions that I barely used, and yet I let them continue for years. I also knew very little about the budgets to which I was entitled through my employer. So I started with Geldvinder and a year and a half later my score was at a much better 67. And it keeps on getting better.”


What does an average work day look like for you?

“We mostly get together as a team to discuss current issues, digitally or otherwise. After that, I usually have one or two presentations at organizations such as a municipality, province, or government department. Once there, I present Geldvinder and share the experiences of users and clients. I always enjoy lunch in our new Edge office, one of the most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. Later in the day, I have telephone calls with interested organizations about Geldvinder. Those are without any exception great conversations.”


What do you do in your free time?

“I often go for hikes in nature, often while listening to a podcast. I love everything Gijs Groenteman does. In terms of music, I like listening to Bob Dylan or Elvis Presley. My greatest hobby is strolling through Amsterdam. Going to the market, and buying fresh ingredients, there’s nothing I like doing more than cooking. Just the other day I hosted a wagyu evening. Wagyu is a Japanese beef delicacy and in terms of quality the Ajax of the market. You should give it a try. Oh yes, and I’m an extreme fan of Italy. I’m thinking about going to Bologna for an extended holiday or sabbatical. It is one of my financial goals.”

What qualities make you suitable for this job?

“The courage to discuss money matters. I wouldn't have done this job if I were afraid of confrontation. I’m also someone who really wants to make an impact, which is particularly important in a start-up. You pretty much have to invent everything yourself - you have to like that. If you’d rather have someone lead you every step of the way, it will be agony. But freedom is exactly what I like.”


What retirement clients notice about your work?

“We offer them Geldvinder, which allows them to have a much better grip on their financial situation. Eventually, it also influences their retirement. I see it as our role to make people aware that more freedom in terms of retirement is not only great, but that it also involves a certain responsibility.”