The €22bn Rabobank Pensioenfonds has appointed Bernard Walschots as chief executive to succeed Jos Dirks, who has retired after nine years at the helm.
Thijs Berenst, manager of the central treasury of Rabobank Netherlands, has been appointed as Walschots’s successor.
Berenst has been a board member of the pension fund since 2008.
Walschots, after having worked as Rabobank’s global head of financial markets research in London, had been CIO at the Rabobank scheme since 2007.
In a past interview, he told former IPE sister publication IP Nederland that the pension fund had just revamped its risk hedge to anticipate tail risks when the financial crisis hit in 2008.
After moving to protect its funding – approximately 160% at the time – through a combination of equity-linked swaptions, equity puts and interest swaptions, the pension fund’s coverage ratio stood at approximately 130% at the end of 2008.
But Walschots said the very low interest levels of today had made Dutch pension funds “very vulnerable”.
The Rabobank Pensioenfonds last year cut its interest hedge by 10 percentage points to approximately 40%, while increasing its equity cover to balance its risk profile, according to its 2014 annual report.
In the past, the pension fund has cited interest risk as one of the most important elements of its risk-management strategy.
According to the scheme’s 2014 annual report, its combined inflation and interest hedge contributed 8 percentage points to its 17.1% return.
As of the end of June 2015, the scheme’s official funding ratio stood at 118.2%, while its required coverage was 116%.
The pension fund granted a 1.1% indexation over the course of 2014 and managed to keep its annual pensions accrual at 2%, despite the tax-facilitated accrual being reduced to 1.875%.