This month Angelien Kemna, APG's Chief Finance & Risk Officer, had an interview with CIO. In this interview she reflects on her career in the financial world in general and at APG in particular...
Angelien Kemna, is the woman credited with keeping a steady hand on the world’s second largest pension as the worst crisis in a generation hit global markets.
The recipient of CIO Europe’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award feels strongly about people who share the philosophy that it’s other people’s money they are dealing with,” “I invest every euro like it belongs to my mother-in-law—and I always have.”
It is this philosophy that brought Angelien Kemna—and APG—to where they find themselves today.
Kemna is first and foremost an investor. She earned her PhD in derivatives and was one of the first to author a paper exploring exotic forms of her subject matter. As a specialist in the field of financial engineering, she knew where to draw the line at APG.
“It’s very good if people are creative, but there is a fine line between effective and a hobby,” she says. One of her first moves in the new role was to implement the Controlled Simplicity programme, which looks at what contributes to the totality of the portfolio and what is too complex. Anything deemed the latter falls in to the “hobby” category and is abandoned.
“Even if you would make alpha out of a strategy, if in the back office and IT you have to pay so much, you lose it all,” she says, remembering why they were all there—that monthly €800. “Not everybody liked this…” From which I can sense there has been more than one heated debate on this subject.
“So we lost some people who did not like it, and we lost others because we stopped strategies,”she says, more sadness than regret in her voice. “It was a pretty tough programme, and we took it pretty far. By turning around the company, moving more from external mandates to internal mandates, we have also saved costs but not at the detriment of the returns.”
APG now manages around 80% of its clients’ assets in-house. This gives them more control, she says, for elements such as sustainable investing to be blended into the investment approach.
More information on the Lifetime achievement award can be found here: