“I don’t look for loopholes in the law”

“I don’t look for loopholes in the law”

Published on: 14 April 2021

“You work in the pension sector? Wow, exciting...” Plenty of preconceived notions about working for a pension fund or administrator. Perhaps not all justified, as shown by a series of portraits about people who work there on a daily basis. People like Jill Kleuters, who is a lawyer: “I think about the opportunities and risks for the fund and always keep an eye on the interests of all the stake holders in this. That that is more than just telling them what is and what is not allowed, according to the Pensions Act.”

 

 

You are a lawyer at APG. What do you do?

“I work in the Fund Services department and, in nutshell, that means that my coworkers and I provide advice to our funds, committees and social partners about all kinds of legal pension subjects.”

 

Like what?

“One of the main themes in the coming years is the new pension system. We help funds to make good choices around this new system. In addition, we also support the funds in legal procedures of participants or employers.”

 

Giving advice, helping... can you give a concrete example of that?

“We help pension fund managers to carefully weigh the interests of all the stakeholders within a fund. And we deal with objections and appeals, which puts us in direct contact with the participant. We include that information in our advice about a future arrangement. For example, the retirement age, which rose to 68 a few years ago, because our average lifespan is longer than before. Raising the age to 68 means that the participant accrues less pension per year; he or she gets more time to save up for their pensions. In the game of negotiations for a new pension arrangement, it is therefore said that something should be provided to offset that lower annual accruement. That may be a premium reduction or more of a pension in a different part of the arrangement, such as the partner pension. My coworkers and I also help the pension funds and social partners, such as employers’ organizations and employers’ representatives in these negotiations. What are the options based on the law, what costs are related to that, what does that do to the participants, how do you communicate the new arrangement to the participant and how can we execute the decisions?”

 

You are working a lot with the law around Wage tax and the Pension Act. Do you look for loopholes in these laws?

“Haha, no. You run into that mainly in advocacy, when you want to get the best for your client. And yes, I do try to get the best for the pension fund and the social partners too, but not through loopholes in the law. I show them an article and indicate to them how we can best apply it and what kind of consequences that will have. I also provide advice as a lawyer for ABP and that pension fund has a certain reputation. So, I can’t afford to always be looking for the boundaries and exceptions.”

People always do know where to find me as soon as they start to get closer to retirement age

How do you differentiate?

“As a lawyer, I don’t just say ‘this is allowed’, or ‘you should do that’. I don’t open a law text and read what it says literally. What I do is to indicate the pros and cons so that a fund has a clear idea of what risks come with a particular choice.”

 

Is this the kind of work you dreamed about when you were a little girl?  

“No, not really. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. But I’m not very good at that, so that dream didn’t last long. What then? I always know right away what I don’t want, but not what I do want, because there are so many things I like. And so, after I graduated from high school, I opted for general economy in university. When I finished that, I still didn’t have a concrete goal in mind. Through a little side job at the Revenue Office, I landed in the field of tax economy and tax law.”

 

Do people walk away from you at a party when they hear what you do?

“No, but I don’t talk about my work at parties. My peers are not thinking about their pensions yet, so that subject just doesn’t arise. What we do often talk about is the career steps we make or the development opportunities you get from an employer, and as an APG employee, I look pretty good in those respects. I have a lot of opportunities to take course and a few years ago I became a team leader of several lawyers. And those are things you can talk about. Incidentally, people always do know where to find me as soon as they start to get closer to retirement age.”