NETHERLANDS - APG Group's ambitions to take on the international market have been welcomed by the Dutch pensions industry, but with a warning that it must take some risks in order to achieve success.
A spokesman for APG investments told Global Pensions it could not go into details about its expansion plans yet, but said it had built up considerable knowledge and know-how in the pensions industry, in asset management, pension administration, collection and payments and communication, and that knowledge could be used for new clients.
He said: "APG Group is already internationally active through Cordares. We have some concrete things in the pipeline but at this moment it is too early to go into detail.
"Our company mission is maintaining the vitality of a pension system based on collectivity and solidarity. We believe that the expansion of collective pension products, also abroad, will benefit the base of support for the Dutch pension system.
"We see an increasing need for fully funded pension systems abroad, which is a result of ageing populations in countries with a pay-as-you-go pension system."
A spokesperson from the Dutch Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds said it supported steps to promote the Dutch pension system, and agreed international expansion was a way of doing that.
She said: "The Dutch system differs in many ways from pension systems in other European countries. When organisations like APG successfully expand internationally, they have a 'platform' to ask for attention for the strong elements of the Dutch system: a system based on collectivity and solidarity that is profitable for most people."
Erik van Dijk, CEO and CIO of investment consultancy Compendeon, said, in terms of its international ambitions, pension funds such as APG Group had the potential to be very successful, but only if they focused on the right area.
He said emerging countries in the process of creating new pension schemes were likely to offer the greatest value.
He said: "I think that is really an interesting way to move forward. They could pitch based on having special expertise, being a pension plan themselves, to domestic markets that don't have the necessary skills, or have just started - that is where I think the main challenge for them lies, and that is where the main growth for them lies."
Van Dijk said governments looking to create pension schemes for their populations, would feel more comfortable speaking to pension plans with proven success in other countries than they would to other commercial entities.
However he warned: "The potential threat is that pension plans tend to be a little bit more risk adverse than commercial asset managers. So my worry would be that instead of focusing on new countries, where their skills would be immediately useful, they might choose to start with the UK and US. There I feel that they are not bringing much to the equation that isn't already there."
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