The First 100 Days as CFRO of APG

The First 100 Days as CFRO of APG
‘We are facing an unprecedented challenge’, says Maarten Blacquière about his first hundred days as Chief Financial & Risk Officer of APG.

Who: Maarten Blacquière
What: CFRO of APG since 1 April
Interviewed by: Jan-Wouter Bloos, partner at Deloitte Consulting in the FSI practice

You come from the energy sector. What motivated you to switch to APG?

‘I like to be involved in organisations that are socially relevant. That was the case in my previous positions in the energy sector – the energy transition for example – which is why I also enjoy being a supervisor in the care sector, where I am a member of the Slingeland Hospital Supervisory Council. What I like the most about APG is that it is all about the best possible pension for elderly people and their surviving dependants as well as contributing – with the necessary capital – to making the world as liveable and sustainable as possible. That is what really motivates me.’

The forthcoming new pension system is forming a considerable challenge for the sector. What impact does that have on your role as CFRO?
‘APG is working hard to ensure a smooth transition to the new pension system. We are doing this together with a wide range of stakeholders, such as pension funds, employers, government and supervisory bodies such as DNB and AFM. What is more, we are all facing an unprecedented challenge, because in the Netherlands we are changing to a completely new pension system in one go.
That has never been done before, not abroad either. In other countries where there have been pension transitions, a gradual phasing in and out was chosen until the last participant or surviving dependant passed away. This often takes decades and is complex as you have to work with two systems. The choice in the Netherlands to do this in one go makes for anxious times, also because you are entering a changing and uncertain world. The greatest challenge lies in the area of ICT, the systems that support colleagues and staff in making this transition, but also finance and risk. As the choices within funds become more complex, it becomes more difficult to meet deadlines. My role as CFRO is to show the right leadership: how can we carefully give shape to this challenge, and do this with the necessary speed? There is, after all, a deadline in the legislation. 1 January 2027. An action-oriented approach is very important for all facets of the business operations to ensure for speed. I have noticed in my first 100 days that APG has a meticulous way of working. Combining this precision with the necessary speed is therefore a challenge to which I can contribute.’

From which experiences from your career do you expect to benefit the most?
‘In my previous role as CFO at Enexis Netbeheer I also provided leadership to an organisation in change, because the transition to a more sustainable energy generation has an enormous impact on the electricity and gas networks as well as the staff. Back then, too, it was my task to mobilise everyone while at the same time being open to the concerns of the staff, as a transition brings along many uncertainties.
As far as APG is concerned, this year it is 100 years since the pension system was established in the Netherlands. So ABP and APG which arose from it are also 100 years old. In the past century, this pension fund and pension provider have faced many challenges. I am sure that the transition to the new system will succeed.’

This short interview has been published in Management Scope 07 2022, as part of the regular 'Coming & Going' section.

This article was last changed on 31-08-2022