Kenan Yildirim, managing director Shell Pensioenbureau Nederland, looks back on the past year and looks ahead to 2021.
The huge red cross through the number 2020 on the cover of Time Magazine was probably as telling as it was disheartening as it was hopeful. What else could have been said about a year that left us with so many questions? Forget about it. On to new horizons.
In my view, 2020 has been an extraordinary year. Extraordinary in geopolitical terms with the tense relationship between America and China, the elections in the United States, the likely impact of Brexit and the European budget including the Corona Recovery Fund. In this regard, the virus has made it exceptionally difficult for us. With financial markets experiencing the biggest post-war downturn at the outbreak of Covid-19, but subsequently hitting levels as if nothing had happened. In the meantime, interest rates continued to fall, working from home became the 'new normal' and the anderhalvemetersamenleving (one-and-a-half-metre-society) became a word in the Dikke van Dale, the Dutch version of the Oxford Dictionary.
Despite all these extraordinary developments, Shell Pension has managed to keep its pension funds running smoothly. Needless to say, it was all hands on deck. And due to the contagious nature of the virus, we could not work together in the same room, and instead had to manage this crisis digitally. That meant about 30,000 payments every month to Shell pension beneficiaries, which we needed to execute accurately and on time. In addition to that, we had to carefully manage our investments and navigate the risks that come with running a pension fund. An exceptional challenge.
That's why I can look to the future with some pride and optimism. The investments are well looked after and the risks are appropriately managed. If you can get through such a period together successfully, it is cause for some gratitude.
In 2021, our focus will largely be on preparing for the new pension system. With a view to this, the government published draft legal texts at the end of 2020. This gives us the opportunity to come up with specific pension solutions within the future frameworks. In that respect, we already have an excellent forerunner in our new fund SNPS. For this, we recently were awarded with the IPE Award: an international professional prize for the best pension fund in the Netherlands on account of the well thought-out and innovative pension schemes.
Managing director Shell Pensioenbureau Nederland