FINLAND - Kalevi Hemilä, managing director of Finnish pension insurance company Etera, has resigned and will be leaving at the end of the year for health reasons.

Hemilä, who was previously a government minister, recently tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to win the top role at Keva, the Finnish local government pensions institution.

He was the only individual among the 20 Keva candidates who was working at another pension fund provider but the top role at Keva eventually went to Merja Ailus, who is currently the president of Finland's Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees (Jyty), a trade union for municipalities and church employees. (See earlier IPE story: Finland's Keva appoints new CEO)

Hannu Tarkkonen will assume the role of managing director from January 2010. He has served as Etera's deputy managing director since January 2005, in charge of client relations and insurance.

Between 1997 to 2004, Tarkkonen served as CIO of Etera and its predecessor, the LEL Employment Pension Fund, and held different positions for LEL Employment Pension Fund from 1974.

Etera is an independent pension insurance operator as it does not have a fixed partnership with any insurance or banking group, but it has been investing heavily in e-business so it may handle all insurance-related issues online.

In Tarkkonen's view, spreading earnings-related pension provision between several operators is important. "In this way, clients may choose a company to their liking, and, in the case of investments, all their eggs are not held in one basket. Simultaneously, investment risks are dispersed," he argued.

Like many other pension insurance companies, 2008 was not a good year but Etera returned 8.3% in the nine months to the end of September, with assets reaching almost €5.2bn.

Etera was established in July 2003 to continue the activities of the LEL Employment Pension Fund. The Pension Fund for Performing Artists and Certain Groups of Employees merged with Etera in 2004. Since the beginning of 2007, Etera has been operating as a pension insurance company alongside other pension insurance companies in the open market.