Richard Gröttheim is to quit his job as chief executive officer of AP7, Sweden’s second biggest pension fund, next year after 12 years as its executive leader, the fund announced this lunchtime.

Gröttheim said in a statement from the pension fund: “It has been a fantastic journey for which I am very grateful.

“The premium pension default alternative is a cornerstone of the Swedish pension system and I had the opportunity to develop it together with fantastic colleagues,” he said.

With SEK855bn (€79.5bn) under management at the end of June, AP7 is the largest of Sweden’s national AP pension funds, and the only one that is not a buffer for the income pension component of the state, or general pension.

Instead, its role is to provide the default option for the premium pension – the other, smaller part of the state pension.

“The time is right to bring my operational career to a close and to hand over the baton to my successor,” Gröttheim said.

Gröttheim, who became CEO in 2010, joined AP7 when it started in 2000, as deputy CEO. At that point, the fund managed just SEK15bn.

AP7 said today that its board was starting a recruitment process with immediate effect.

Per Frennberg, chair of AP7, said: “The board would have liked to see Richard Gröttheim stay for a couple more years, but fully understands that he wants to devote himself to other activities after a long and dedicated service.”

Frennberg said AP7’s financial result had “been outstanding; the organisation is highly competent and the sustainability work has been exemplary”.

While AP7 reported a 31.5% return for the average saver with its Såfa lifecycle pensions product for the whole of 2021, the default product ended the first half of 2022 with a loss of 11.6% amid a downturn in world financial markets.

However, that six-month return still beat the average of the private funds in the premium pension system, which was -18.5%.

Gröttheim’s resignation comes at a time when AP7 and the premium pension system are in a phase of major change.

This autumn, Sweden’s parliament is due to vote on changes to AP7’s mandate which will increase the fund’s opportunities to invest in alternative assets, and the private funds platform is in the process of switching to a procured system from one where all fund providers meeting the criteria could market their products.

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