Strategy of Athora Netherlands/Zwitserleven.
"Sustainability is really in our DNA"
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Strategy of Athora Netherlands/Zwitserleven.

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An introduction to Jan de Pooter, CEO Athora Netherlands

Jan de Pooter, CEO Athora Netherlands, introduces himself. In the interview, he discusses the strategy and future resilience of Athora Netherlands, the parent company of Zwitserleven.

First, a personal question: who are you and what is your personal ambition at Athora Netherlands?

"My name is Jan de Pooter, I am married and together with my wife and three children I have lived and worked in Portugal for the past 16 years. I ended up there after switching from Fortis in 2005 to bancassurance company Millennium bcp, a joint venture with Fortis and the market leader in Portugal. I worked there for ten years, five of them as CEO. In 2015, I became CEO of the Portuguese insurer Tranquilidade, so we ended up staying in Portugal much longer than we had anticipated. It was a wonderful period, but now I love being back in the Netherlands.”

"During the introductory meetings with colleagues, I already saw that there is a lot of expertise, energy and commitment at Athora Netherlands. It is a company with a can-do mentality and a great history. At the same time, there was a need to clarify and refine the strategy. My personal ambition is to build a strong and customer-oriented company with a leading position in the Dutch market as a focused player in life insurance and pensions. It is great to see the energy that is being released now that we are setting a clear direction and ambitious goals."

Solvency has risen to 180%: what does this mean for Zwitserleven customers?

"It is not necessarily the most exciting subject, but it is very important. After all, strong solvency means that we are shockproof and can also meet our clients' pension obligations in the long term. It is the foundation on which we build. In addition, the capital we have received from our shareholder enables us to grow faster, invest in new products and tools for our clients and achieve higher returns on our investments."

Where does Athora Netherlands stand now? And what is the ambition for the future?

"In the past period, we have laid a solid foundation. We are now looking to the future to become that focused player in life insurance and pensions. Service to our clients, through our Zwitserleven brand, is central to this: they are what gives our organisation the right to exist. That means offering sustainable products at the right price and at the same time giving clients personal insight with the best possible service."

Sustainability is an important theme: how is that reflected in the ambition?

"Sustainability is really in the DNA of our company. We want to achieve an optimal financial and social return for our clients. This means that we invest every euro of pension in a sustainable way. Our investment policy has won several awards in recent years. And to keep standards high, we launched a Sustainability department at Athora Netherlands this year and this theme continues to be a central priority in our strategy. I think it is a positive development that both consumers and employers are increasingly making conscious choices with respect to sustainability, and are taking this into account when choosing a pension insurer."

What is your view of the new pension agreement?

"The advent of the new pension system will mean many changes in the pensions world. Participants will have more freedom of choice and there are real choices to be made that will have a major impact on one’s income later on. It is up to us to offer the right products, to make them available through accessible tools and - very importantly - to communicate very clearly about the possibilities and the consequences of those choices. This also means, for example, excellent portals for employers and participants and the launch of new products."

"More choice means more guidance. We expect we will work together even more closely in the period to come."

- Jan de Pooter, CEO Athora Netherlands

How do you see cooperation with advisers and employers?

"I think these will be interesting and challenging times for advisers. Because more choice also means more guidance, and advisers have an important role here. Starting with supporting the employer and calculating different scenarios. At the same time, guiding and informing participants involves a shared responsibility for the employer, the adviser and the pension provider. So we expect we will be working even more closely with advisers in the period to come."

How do you define the ‘Zwitserleven Feeling’.

"For me, the Zwitserleven Feeling is about enjoying life without worries, not only later but in the here and now. Knowing that your pension gives you the security that you can continue to do the things that you enjoy today. Personally, I like sports and the outdoor life. Specially tennis, swimming and running. I’m planning to take part in the Half Ironman, which unfortunately could not take place last year because of the pandemic. I am also a huge rugby fan - this I discovered while in Portugal - and I love going to the Six Nations matches. I also love being with my family and making nice trips. That’s what the Zwitserleven Feeling means to me."

This article is published on 22 March 2022

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