NETHERLANDS - The €22bn pension fund for the metal and electrotechnical engineering industry (PME) has appointed John van Markwijk as CIO, effective from 1 October.

Van Markwijk is meant to act as a countervailing power on asset management, “after lessons learned from the credit crisis”, the scheme said.

Last year, PME already decided to downsize its board and increase the frequency of its meetings to better supervise its asset management.

According to Gerda Smits, spokeswoman for PME, the fact lessons were learned did not mean its asset manager, Mn Services, had not done its job properly.

“We want the expertise level of complex issues, such as investment and risk management, to become more balanced,” she said.

“Our board needs to be fully able to interpret advice from its provider.”

Van Markwijk, who is on secondment from consultancy Ortec Finance, has been acting CIO since July.

Ortec Finance in the past supported PME on asset-liability management, risk management and the monitoring of asset management mandates, and it will continue to do so, the fund said.

Officials stressed that van Markwijk had broad experience in the field of asset management for pension funds.

PME pointed to his role as managing director of Ortec Finance, where he was responsible for investment consulting, as well as his time as CIO at both SPF Beheer - provider of the large railways scheme SPF and the public transport pension fund SPOV - and Interpolis Pensioenen.

PME’s new CIO in the past also chaired the investment committee of pension funds’ lobbying organisation VB.

Smits added that the scheme’s own asset management team would grow further, with the appointment of two new permanent staff. 

PME recently appointed its own risk manager.

In 2007, the metal scheme contracted out its asset management to Mn Services, the €67bn asset manager and pensions provider of the €35bn scheme for metalworking and mechanical engineering (PMT).

PME’s former CIO, Roland van den Brink, as well as his investment team, moved to Mn Services, where he joined the board of management.

The scheme for the Metalektro was badly affected by the financial crisis and saw its coverage ratio drop to 93%.

Following the drop, Dutch social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner placed PME on the list of 14 schemes that must bring forward recovery measures, which could include rights cuts.

Smits told IPE: “We are still looking into the options of alternatives measures rather than cuts.”

PME has 680,000 participants and pensioners. The industry-wide scheme covers more than 1,220 affiliated companies.