Just under three more years and then the first pension fund will transfer to the new system. This transition must run smoothly for all parties – employers, participants and funds. That is why 2022 for APG is fully dominated by execution, says APG’s CEO Annette Mosman. “The most important thing is that we first get the primary process in order. That has to be done right the first time. It is the litmus test of the new pension system.”
“2021 was the last year APG could afford to talk about preparing for the new pension agreement. This year is all about implementation,” says, APG’s CEO Annette Mosman. “As we speak, the bill is in the House of Representatives for approval. The transition to the new pension system is therefore becoming a reality. And now it’s our turn. You can feel that in every fiber of our organization. We’ve thought about it for a long time, we’ve helped create the law, and now we have to renovate our house while the store stays open.”
And meanwhile, 2022 has begun very dramatically. What is the impact of that on you, on the organization?
“Everything is relative when you see what is happening now in Ukraine. That affects me as a person and it affects our employees. There are people working at APG who are from Ukraine, people with relatives there and we have Russian colleagues as well. It affects the organization as a whole, but it also affects the energy prices we all pay, our economy, our investments, cybersecurity. But most of all, it is a humanitarian disaster that is happening right now.”
What is number one on the 2022 priority list?
“For APG and our pension fund clients, the first priority is obviously the Pension of the Future. In the next six months, we will be making agreements with our clients about which fund will be transferred when. Before we transfer the first fund on January 1, 2025, there is still a great deal of preparation to be done. This includes, for example, the implementation of the policy administration and the entry process, but also the development of our employees’ competencies. And secondly: last year was an excellent investment year. We can be proud of APG’s leading position as a responsible investor. But that position is under pressure. Clients and society are demanding more speed on sustainability issues. So, we have to move. In a smart way. By focusing on and accelerating the digitization of our operations. And by making clear choices on the theme of responsible investment, together with our fund clients.
Finally, we need to move even more toward a single APG. We must learn more from each other’s areas of expertise. With the new pension contract, we are seeing asset management and pension management increasingly converging. They used to be two separate, specialist fields. Our magnificent new working environment, EDGE West, helps in this respect. Literally. I spoke to a colleague who now works there and he told me: ‘I’ve been with APG for fifteen years now, but in one week I’ve already met more coworkers than in I did in recent years.’ That’s wonderful. The new APG is starting with the direct collaboration between people.”
The road to the new system is complex. Many parties with different interests. A system that has not yet been worked out in detail. How difficult is it to find your way in it as an administrator?
“Clear choices’ is the theme of the annual report and that really means that we have made, had to make, clear choices and have put some things on the backburner. We are continuing to experiment; we are continuing to think about new propositions in terms of the financial fitness of the participant. But the most important thing now is to first get the primary process in order. We are going to convert 1,700 billion euros for the transition in the Netherlands. That has to be done right the first time. It is the litmus test for the new pension system. It is crucial for our pension fund clients and their participants that the pots are calculated correctly.”
But are you going to be able to figure that out together?“We work for eight funds. Each fund has its own ambitions and different emphases. Whether it’s data quality, their new client missions or improving ‘my pension’. But that is no small feat, because everyone wants their full agenda accomplished. However, there is also a clear common goal: a smooth and controlled transition to the new pension system. In which we promote the interests of all participants in the best possible way.”
The fact is that not everything is known about the new system yet. How do you lead that process?
“We have a lot of expertise at APG. Still, it is not easy, because we have never before had to face a period in which we had to make such important decisions, while the picture has not yet crystallized. You may call the context we are operating in unclear, but I don’t see it that way. There are always uncertainties. I actually enjoy providing leadership in a context of uncertainties. For me, the glass is usually half full. And besides: there is a lot we do know. We know what the law stands for, we know the direction it is going in. You can also be the master of your own destiny in that process.”
Administrative calm is crucial in this respect, Mosman points out. “We have a stable executive board, which was also involved in the formulation of the strategy in this composition and really lived through it. That also applies to the majority of the leadership team. And that administrative calm is also there because of the good relationship with the Works Council, the Supervisory Board and the shareholders. I am genuinely pleased that the relationships with these important stakeholders has improved and been strengthened. We have achieved this through intensive and genuine contact, in which we have not avoided difficult discussions and dilemmas.”