Edwin Meysmans, managing director of Pensioenfonds KBC, one of Belgium’s largest pension funds, will leave his role in early July to enter into retirement.
He doesn’t like to call it that, however.
“I think the English word ‘retirement’ is a horrible word,” he said. “Don’t you think so? It means that you’re stepping out of a society and you retire – it’s a terrible word.”
Meysmans will mark 20 years as head of the pension fund in a few days. He joined the financial group’s pension fund when KBC was still Kredietbank, having previously worked for the bank’s legal department and then its credit department.
During those two decades it has grown from €500m in assets to €2bn as of 1 January this year, according to Meysmans.
“That’s quite a growth,” he told IPE. “Looking at return figures over the last 20 years we got to an annual average return of 6.96%, so very close to 7%. After inflation it’s more than 5%, so I think we’ve done – not just me but with the team – a good job.”
Some governance changes are due to take place in connection with Meysmans’ retirement, such as creating separate roles for liabilities and assets. These have yet to be decided.
Meysmans has been an active member of the Belgian pension fund association – now known as PensioPlus – throughout his career, as a member of the board, the management committee, and as vice-president. He will relinquish his long-held role as vice president at the association when he leaves KBC.
He will remain an independent trustee of the Euroclear Pension Fund and the Willis Towers Watson Lifesight OFP, and has been asked to act as independent trustee and chair of a new pan-European pension fund that is due to be launched soon.
The fund, Pensions OFP, was approved by the Belgian regulator in February. Meysmans said it is a pension fund “with a Danish background” but will set up shop in Belgium to run a pan-European defined contribution plan, offered first in Denmark but then opening to other European countries.
Meysmans is also a lay judge in Belgium’s commercial courts, and said he would spend more time on this activity.