Big Departures at Dutch Pension Giants?

Elizabeth Pfeuti of Financial News reports, Dutch pension fund giant loses CEO:
One of the largest pension funds in Europe is to lose its chief executive, in the latest high-profile resignation to hit the sector.

Else Bos, who has led PGGM since 2012, is to quit the organisation in November. PGGM invests €205.8bn for various pension funds, including the €188bn PFZW scheme for medical workers.

PFZW is the second-biggest pension scheme in both the Netherlands and Europe.

Earlier this month, APG, Europe's largest pension fund, announced that Eduard van Gelderen, its chief executive, will leave the organisation in August. Van Gelderen is to take a senior investment role at the University of California's $100bn investment fund.

In a statement published by PGGM, Bos said: “I have very much enjoyed working at PGGM over the past 15 years. An organisation of committed professionals with a green heart who are devoted to creating a valuable future for participants and members. I am proud of what we have achieved together.”

Bos joined PGGM in 2002 and by 2004 was promoted to the executive board as chief executive officer for investments. She featured on FN's list of 100 influential people in finance in 2013.

Her new employer will be announced in due course, PGGM said.

Edwin Velzel, chairman of PGGM’s supervisory board, said of Bos: “Her ability to give such committed leadership to the prudent management and sustainable investment of the pensions of 2.9m participants has been a remarkable achievement.”

PGGM said it will begin looking for a successor in due course.
Nick Reeve of Investment & Pensions Europe also reports, PGGM chief executive Else Bos resigns:
Else Bos, chief executive officer of Dutch pension manager PGGM, is to exit the company on 1 November.

Bos will “take on a new position elsewhere”, PGGM said in a statement.

She has been CEO since 2012, having taken on the role from Martin van Rijn, who is now the Netherlands’ secretary of state for health, welfare, and sport.

During her period in charge of PGGM, Bos has overseen an expansion of its fiduciary offering as well as a major restructuring of its wider business in 2014. Aimed at reducing operational costs by up to €50m, the restructuring project included cutting 200 jobs.

In 2015, the group shut down its hedge fund programme following the decision of its main client, the healthcare fund PFZW, to divest completely from its allocation to hedge funds.

Bos first joined PGGM – the Netherlands’ second largest pension manager – in 2002. She was appointed CEO for investments in 2004, and chief of institutional business in 2010. She has also worked for ABN Amro and NIB Capital Management.

Edwin Velzel, the new chairman of PGGM’s supervisory board, said: “With conviction and vision, Else Bos has made an important contribution to the development of PGGM over the past few years.

“Her ability to give such committed leadership to the prudent management and result-driven and sustainable investment of the pensions of 2.9m participants has been a remarkable achievement. We are very grateful for everything Else has accomplished for PGGM and we wish her success in her future career.”

Bos described PGGM as “an organisation of committed professionals with a green heart who are devoted to creating a valuable future for participants and members”.

PGGM runs €206bn in assets for Dutch pension funds including PFZW and the doctors’ scheme SPH.

Earlier this month Eduard van Gelderen, CEO of APG Asset Management, the largest pension manager in the Netherlands, announced his departure from the group to join the University of California’s investment team.
Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, Nick Reeve reported, APG CEO van Gelderen to exit in August:
APG chief executive Eduard van Gelderen is to leave the Dutch asset manager in August to join the University of California’s investment team.

Van Gelderen joined APG Asset Management – which is responsible for running €451bn of assets for pension fund clients – in 2010, initially as chief investment officer. He became CEO in 2014, succeeding Angelien Kemna.

He will leave APG on 1 August, according to a press release from the Dutch group.

Gerard van Olphen, CEO of APG Group, said: “With the departure of Eduard, we will lose a top investor and an excellent colleague. Under his management, APG AM has produced €100bn in returns for our pension funds and their participants. We understand the attractive challenges of this new role in the US and we wish him good luck.”

Bart Le Blanc, who chairs the APG Group’s supervisory board, added that the “international cooperation projects and internal innovation programs” van Gelderen had introduced would “serve APG for a long time”.

Before joining APG, van Gelderen was deputy CIO at ING Investments, and has also been head of investments at Lombard Odier.

He is to join a star-studded investment team overseeing $107bn (€96bn) in pension and endowment assets at the University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer. Led by CIO Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the team also includes former US public pension chiefs and a former US treasury adviser.

According to a memo published by the university yesterday, van Gelderen will be a senior managing director reporting to Bachher. He will be “product manager” for the university’s $56bn pension fund, and have oversight responsibilities for the team’s public equities investments – at $52bn, the largest allocation to one asset class.

The memo also highlighted van Gelderen’s experience in real assets, an area the university wants to expand, and praised his contacts across Europe as a “key factor” in diversifying the portfolio geographically.

Van Gelderen will remain at APG until 1 August to help the board “safeguard a careful and thorough transition”, the asset manager said.
These are two big departures at two giant Dutch pensions. Else Bos and Eduard van Gelderen are both highly respected CEOs who have left their mark at their respective pension funds.

It's interesting to note van Gelderen will join Jagdeep Singh Bachler at the University of California. Bachler was the former CIO at AIMCo when Leo de Bever was the CEO of that fund. Leo has acted as an advisor to APG in the past.

I can assure you van Gelderen will be paid a lot more to go work at the University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer. Talented individuals with his experience and connections are in high demand.

As for Else Bos, I am sure she too has tremendous experience and great credentials, so it wouldn't surprise me if she was recruited to work somewhere where she will also receive a higher compensation package.

Dutch pensions are among the best in the world but their compensation isn't the best (it's decent but far from being highly competitive), which leaves these organizations exposed when other organizations try to recruit their top talent.

I don't have much to add because I haven't been tracking Dutch pensions in the last few years (see this older comment). If you have anything to add, feel free to reach out to me at

Below, an old PBS report on why The Netherlands seems to have its pension problem solved. Ninety percent of Dutch workers get pensions, and retirees can expect roughly 70% of their working income paid to them for the rest of their lives.

It's far from perfect but there's no question the Dutch pension system is solid and way ahead of that in most other countries. We can all learn a lot from the Dutch when it comes to retiring in dignity and security.

Update: Leo de Bever, the former CEO of AIMCo, shared this me after reading this comment:
I know and respect both Eduard and Else.

Running a large fund in a heavily regulated environment can take you far away from making innovative long-term investments.

The Dutch central bank, the pension regulator, has some very restrictive ideas on what is prudent.

In the Netherlands and elsewhere, governance and risk management are becoming code words for not taking much risk. That gets tiresome after a while.

A lot of these decisions depend on non-financial factors. Doing the desirable as well as the profitable motivated me, and many pension managers I know, like Eduard and Else.

You have to have spring in your step when you go to work or it is not worth doing.

Or as a Dutch proverb says: a change of diet improves appetite.
Indeed, a change of diet improves appetite. I thank Leo for sharing his wise insights with my readers.