The First 100 Days as CFRO of APG Asset Management

The First 100 Days as CFRO of APG Asset Management
On her first hundred days as Chief Finance & Risk Officer, Barbara Bakker says: ‘An exciting time for asset managers.’

Who: Barbara Bakker
What: Since July 1, 2023, CFRO of APG Asset Management
Interviewed by: Marieke van Eenennaam, partner at Deloitte

How did you spend your first 100 days?
‘I can recommend to everyone to start such a job in the middle of summer: it gave me ample time to get to know the organization and the people. I also looked at how the puzzle fits together here, with the various offices and the relationship between APG Asset Management, the APG Group and our pension fund clients, the largest of which are the ABP and bpfBOUW pension funds. For my own domain, I wanted to use the first 100 days mainly to get an oversight of the whole system and understand the processes. That worked out well. Together with my team I had the opportunity to do some deep dives on several topics.’

What would you want to focus on in the coming period?
‘I am primarily looking at which processes we can further optimize. I would like my people to have an impact on the rest of the organization, with good data, knowledge, and reports. We are in the middle of a major transition. As a sector, but also as an organization. It is a continuous stream of change. I notice that people find that demanding. You can remove that stress through control, by providing insight into what needs to be done, by providing clarity about the way we work. Transformation is sometimes taxing, but it can also be a lot of fun.’

You were CEO of Aegon Asset Management in your previous position. A move to the CFRO role is quite remarkable....
‘I returned to the chair that felt most comfortable to me. I sat in the CEO chair for a while and that was interesting, a lot of fun to do, but in the end this position makes me happiest. I realized that I am someone for content, for numbers. I like strategy, but I like the execution of strategy even more. All in all, the CFRO role suits me best. Incidentally, I do not think this is an easier role than the CEO role. This role, too, offers more than enough challenges.’

What do you, as a leader, find important to highlight in the coming period?
‘I would like to be the cooperating forewoman and steer from the content. From that basis, I want to serve, advise, and challenge the rest of the organization. And what I personally find most important is that everyone on my team can be themselves. I want to create a culture in which people are allowed to be different, in which everyone is free to express a dissenting opinion, and where we see the value added through this as a gift.’

And content-wise?
‘Content-wise it will be an interesting time. Participants will have more insight into their pensions. They will be able to get more involved in the social debate about how we can invest pension money responsibly. I expect that we will have to answer more questions and provide more insight into processes and risks. We need to look for a sustainable, responsible investment product while also offering a good return - and ultimately, therefore, a good pension in a livable world. These are going to be exciting, but also challenging, times for asset managers specifically.’

This short interview was published in Management Scope 08 2023, as part of the regular 'Coming & Going' section.

This article was last changed on 03-10-2023