Fjärde AP-fonden (AP4) was named European Pension Fund of the Year at tonight’s IPE Awards 2022 ceremony in Rotterdam.

The Swedish pension fund – which has also bagged the Portfolio Construction & Diversification and the Public Pension Fund awards – was named the most transparent pension fund internationally in terms of its responsible investing this summer in a league table compiled by Global Pension Transparency Benchmark (GPTB).

AP4, one of Sweden’s national pensions buffer funds, is actively seeking companies that have plans for sustainable change, using a process involving close scrutiny of individual firms before adding them to its SEK459bn (€41.9bn) portfolio.

The pension fund has introduced defensive equities into its portfolio this year to manage risk from rising inflation and has added multiple sustainable investments in private markets as well as green bonds.

One of the judges said: “A leading long-term pension investor that shows that it is possible to find new and intelligent ways to punch above its weight in the illiquid markets and be creative when it comes to the listed markets.”

“Thank you very much, this is such a surprise and a great pleasure,” said AP4 chief executive officer Niklas Ekvall upon receiving the award, adding: ”Thanks to my team back in Stockholm for making this possible.”

Notably, Timo Löyttyniemi, CEO of the State Pension Fund of Finland (Valtion Eläkerahasto, VER), has won the Pension Fund Leader award this year.

Timo Löyttyniemi at VER

Timo Löyttyniemi, VER (left) accepting the Pension Fund Leader award

Löyttyniemi has been a prominent figure in Europe’s pensions landscape for the past two decades. He has been a pillar of stability for VER and for the Finnish economy during turbulent times. His first stint at the pension fund covered the global financial crisis during 2007 and 2008, when in spite of plummeting share prices and financial hardship for companies, VER invested €1.5bn in equities and corporate bonds.

His return in 2020 coincided with the coronavirus crisis, followed by the war in Ukraine. Despite these challenges, the fund posted excellent returns in 2021, helped by the support measures of governments and central banks.

Under the two-time CEO of €21bn VER scheme, who was also the inaugural vice-chair of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), the central resolution authority within the EU’s Banking Union for failing banks, the SRB achieved a safety net value of €55bn.

“I very much appreciate being here,” said Löyttyniemi, adding that “after two years of remote working, it’s very pleasant to be here with all the people of the pensions world”.

Denmark’s Dorrit Vanglo takes this year’s Outstanding Industry Contribution award. The outgoing CEO of LD Pensions leaves an institution that runs two funds that have positively impacted the Danish pensions landscape.

Vanglo’s career has spanned nearly 40 years in public administration and finance. Before moving into pensions she worked as a section head at the Danish ministry of finance and she now sits on the boards of various companies and organisations that span the public and private sectors – in a similar vein to LD.

“Thank you very much for this award but it’s not the skiper that brings the ship safely to the shore but the whole crew,” she wrote in a message as she could not be present at the event.

Gold Awards Winner 
Long-Term Investment Strategy GM Pensiones
Commitment to Diversity AG2R La Mondiale
Pension Fund Leader Timo Löyttyniemi
Outstanding Industry Contribution Dorrit Vanglo
European Pension Fund of the Year Fjärde AP-fonden (AP4)
Silver Awards Winner 
Active Management Amonis OFP
Corporate Pension Fund Bosch Pensionsfonds AG
Multi-Employer/ Professional Pension Fund Industriens Pension
Passive Management KB First Pension Company JSC Skopje
Public Pension Fund Fjärde AP-fonden (AP4)
Small Pension Fund London Borough of Sutton Pension Fund

PFZW is the leading pension fund in the Netherlands, the location of this year’s IPE Conference & Awards. Among its notable achievements this year are a smart engagement concept based on active ownership, moves to influence oil and gas firms to adopt the Paris Agreement through intensive dialogue and divestment, and transparent climate reporting at least once a quarter.

The 2022 IPE Awards attracted more than 300 entries across 43 categories representing more than 20 countries, with participating investors managing €3.2trn in assets. Some 80 judges were involved in assessing entries, each bringing specialist expertise or knowledge in a particular category.

Among the 612 overall delegates, there are 226 executives from pension funds.

Find out about all the winners in our dedicated Awards Supplement.