EUROPEAN SPECIAL – ABP, the €148bn Dutch civil service pension fund and VKG/CPM, the €520m Belgian pension fund for doctors, dentists and pharmacists, were named as the European winners for Investment Strategy at the first ever IPE-Awards ceremony for pension fund excellence, held in Brussels last night (November 27).

The two schemes triumphed over an outstanding field of European pension funds to be named as the two best and most innovative investment operators on the continent.

The glittering ceremony at Le Plaza Hotel was attended by more than 200 of Europe’s top pensions professionals.

One judge described the entry from Heerlen-based Dutch giant ABP, which looks after the pensions of some 1.2m Dutch employees in its sector, as proof of a “finely-tuned beast that just keeps on delivering”.

Another noted the rapid metamorphosis of VKG/CPM from an underfunded pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan into one of Europe’s most respected funded arrangements: “VKG/CPM has been able to implement a radical change, moving from a dull and risk-averse institution to a very dynamic and diversified management style, allowing the pension fund to compete on quality and professionalism with the larger Anglo-Saxon pension funds. VKG/CPM has consistently obtained an above-average investment return.”

The judges for the European awards were some of the continent’s most respected pensions professionals, including Koen de Ryck of Brussels-based Pragma Consulting, Marcello Messori of Mefop in Italy and Vincent Vandier of French pensions association AFPEN.