“I am deeply involved in the hospitality industry; the customer is king in my opinion”

Published on: 19 July 2021

‘Do you work in the pension business? Wow, interesting…’ A great deal of bias towards working for a pension fund or provider. Maybe not entirely justified, as it appears from a series of portraits about the people who work there on a daily basis. People such as Chrissy Mols, who solves problems as a business information consultant and interconnects teams. “The participant is not sufficiently in control yet, while that's truly what the business is all about.”


You work at APG for nearly eight years now, but is this the career you anticipated for yourself when you were younger?
“Originally, I
am deeply involved in the hospitality industry. I have also worked in the industry for a long time and I am actually still enjoying that. So if you ask me now what I wanted to be or still want to be, I have to say an operator of a fun restaurant or bistro. A place where people can enjoy good food and drinks in an informal atmosphere, that would be fantastic!”


That's an entirely different world compared to the pension business.
“Not entirely. The hospitality industry has taught me to listen to people and to understand what it is they need. And just like I was available to customers in the hospitality industry, I am now available to pension participants and colleagues.”


Can you explain that?
“I work for the teacher, the police officer, my father and the next-door neighbor. People who are not enjoying a fun afternoon on my terrace right now, but people who are depending on us for a financially untroubled future. I help them with their questions, support them in making choices and think about the way for us to make complex matters more transparent for them. Besides that, it is important to me that we also discuss our ideas with those participants and receive their feedback. The pension industry may be a piece of cake to us, but that does not at all apply to everyone.

What appeals to me the most, is the fact that I am able to think along about improvements and innovation. This to serve my colleagues, but especially the people who are entitled to those monthly payments for which they have worked so long and so hard. I consider my hotel management background as my strength in this position. I don't have a 9 to 5 mentality, for instance. The customer is king in my opinion.”


It almost seems as if you are personally involved with the customer. Why is that?
“The participants have not chosen their pension fund and thus also not for us as their pension provider. How bad would it be if they have no other choice but to deal with us and are not provided with excellent quality service? I don't return to a restaurant if they serve me bad food. Pension participants don't have that option of not returning. They are financially depending on us and we are the only party for them to turn to if they need an explanation. This means we have to do it right.”

You have just started a new position. Can you tell us more about that?
“It doesn't just involve a new position for me, the role of business information consultant also is a new position within the business unit pension administration. This department is sometimes referred to as the beating heart of APG. This is where the participant administration is kept, the contact with customers takes place and where the calculations are being made. In our new team Design Authority, my colleagues and I study ongoing projects and incidents and I look ahead to the things to come. What does our pension administration look like in four years? How do we communicate with our participants in a few years? And what are the processes our colleagues will use to help the participants? What are the departments we can collaborate with in view of, for example, the new pension system. Those kinds of things.”

Can you give an example of a subject you are currently studying?
“Take the legislative proposal on pension distribution in the event of a divorce. According to this proposal, both ex-partners are entitled to half of the old-age pension and partner pension accrued during their marriage. It would be an obvious choice to think this legislative amendment only impacts the teams or colleagues who are dealing with divorce-related matters. It is my job to check whether this law also effects other departments within APG, such as other teams at PU, legal affairs and communication. It's not just me undertaking this task by the way. I work with a number of colleagues from different departments.”


Does working at a pension provider offer sufficient challenges?
“Absolutely! A lot is possible within APG as long as you want it and make your views known. Development is always encouraged in my perception. I work at pension administration since 2013 and I am truly enjoying my job. Collaborating with other colleagues and other business units gives me a lot of energy. In order to achieve the best possible results for our participant, I don't only walk the beaten track, I am also looking for small side roads. In other words: it is my opinion that we have to think differently. Thinking along the line of our execution towards the participant is the sequence reversed. It is necessary to build our process starting from the participant. Because the participant is not sufficiently in control yet, while that's truly what the business is all about.”

You are close to the customer. Has that relationship changed in the past few years?
“I can certainly tell the difference in the behavior of the participant. Eight years ago, he or she would be satisfied with our answer to a question asked. Now, the participants question our reply and make comments on what we're saying. Participants are more empowered and demand an explanation. That takes up more of our time and efforts. And given the new pension system, that empowerment and the number of questions will certainly be increasing. Should we train the colleagues to be ready? How will we tackle this and what will a participant demand from us in the future? I really enjoy thinking about that.”

Being so deeply involved in the hospitality industry, I assume you go to parties quite regularly. Do people turn their back on you once you tell them about your work?
“No, rather the opposite. Quite a few people in my circle of acquaintances work in the education industry and they frequently ask me questions about pensions. So the people come look for me. That is to say, not everyone. My parents don't exactly understand with kind of work I am doing at the moment. My father works in an industry with a lot of physical work which makes it difficult to explain what it is I am doing all day sitting behind my laptop. Moreover, my mother receives her pension payment every month from ABP as of recently, so they don't really care about it substantively anymore.”