It is a cold Tuesday morning in March as I land at Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport on my way to visit Rolf at PensionKøbenhavn, one of Denmark’s most innovative pension funds, to finalise our strategic co-operation in investment matters before board ratificiation. Geert, our recent graduate appointee in the investment department, is with me.
Of course, there are a lot of differences between we Dutch and our Danish friends: they like blue cheese, we like Gouda. But we also have a lot in common - for instance, strong pension funds.
Rolf is the CIO of PensionKøbenhavn. I met him three years ago and realised we had a lot in common in terms of our schemes: we have a similar profile of active and retired members and undertook simultaneous strategic diversification exercises. But neither of us is a large fund and we sometimes feel under-resourced.
Geert and I arrive at PensionKøbenhavn’s offices, and Rolf comes down the stairs together with his colleague Katrine, greeting us warmly. We have been discussing the co-operation for a year, and know what we want to achieve.
Most importantly, we will pool manager research and corporate governance information and create joint training programmes for our respective boards in specific areas such as emerging markets. These programmes will take place at the same time as a joint annual seminar for both boards, to which we will invite our managers and others to be speakers.
‘We’ve made excellent progress,’ I say to Rolf as we walk up the stairs to his modest office. ‘I agree,’ he replies. ‘Now that we have finalised the text of the memorandum of understanding, we can move on to making this work in practice. But let’s not get too wrapped up in compliance.’
Luckily, since both boards have seen and approved the draft text and we have taken into account some final points, there is little else to be amended and we move on to talking about practicalities and making our co-operation work.
Geert makes a short presentation to PensionKøbenhavn about a recent trip he made to visit our US small cap manager, which included factory visits in Maryland and West Virginia. We also discuss our plans in emerging markets and farmland. Katrine makes a presentation on the cash-flow structure of their wind farm investments.
Later, Rolf takes us on a walk through Copenhagen and the four of us dine in an Italian restaurant. We toast the accord with a glass of Carlsberg, warm words and good sentiment.
‘Now comes the interesting part of our co-operation,’ I say. ‘You mean getting results from our work together?’ says Rolf. ‘Yes,’ I reply. ‘And also the tricky question of where to hold our first joint seminar this summer! Copenhagen and Amsterdam are both nice in June.’
Pieter Mullen is investment director at Wasserdicht Pension Funds