Last week, our annual PensionTech summit was held at the MN Services and Caballero Fabriek buildings in The Hague, spanning two days to accommodate the sheer crowd size and diverse expert line-up. Attendees comprised of bankers, consultants and pension fund employees heard from speakers from varying niches of technology, finance and actuarial science; with insights not only from established pension funds, but also pension startups locally and beyond. This year’s summit not only incorporated international perspectives on how blockchain and distributed ledger technology can deliver innovative solutions back, middle and front office problems in pension administration, but also how fintech can be a sales pitch for pension products designed to court millenials.
The PensionTech Marketplace
On the 16th of May, the first leg of the PensionTech summit was hosted at MN Services Den Haag with almost 150 people in attendance. Holland FinTech CEO Don Ginsel kicked off the event with a brief introduction on the relative novelty of Pensiontech, and in doing so, narrates the history and timeline of notable pensiontech developments. He stressed in the importance of pensiontech innovations in helping consumers with little digital literacy in accessing pension products that they need. After the introduction, Rene van de Kieft, the CEO of MN Services, delivered a keynote speech on how technological developments radically change business models. Marjolijn Pouw, the innovation manager at PGGM, further drives this point home by following up with a presentation on how distributed ledger technology can radically improve the pension administration.
The third speaker of the day was Rene Oudkerk Pool, who presented his company EOS Amsterdam as a blockchain operating system that allows users to easily build blockchain based apps. Joris Cramwinckel of Ortec Finance introduced Dr. Nudge, a pension cum asset management programme that uses blockchain, peer-to-peer (P2P) technology and smart contracts to tailor pension investments to individual preferences. Rick de Boer of APG Groeifabriek delivered the last pitch of the day: NestEgg, which uses blockchain to simplify legacy pension infrastructure, decreasing costs needed to make an auditable trail of every individual’s pension plausible.
Finally, Don concluded first day of the summit by sharing some succinct observations of the current pensiontech landscape: many of the fintech innovations involve changing pension infrastructure/administrations as opposed to providing a radically new pension solution. The day drew to a close with a preface of tomorrow’s line up followed by an evening event of networking and nibbles.
On the 17th of May, the second leg of the summit commenced at Caballero Fabriek, a multipurpose auditorium wedged between industrial buildings at Saturnusstraat, The Hague. Distinguished actuary and host of the day Jeroen Breen, Don and city mayor Karsten Klein officiated the final day of the summit by welcoming the crowd to The Hague.
The first event of the day was a Fireside Chat with chairman of Pensions Europe Janwillem Bouma and IBM Pension Fund Director Wouter van Eechoud, both of whom discussed the trajectory of pensiontech developments within the context of Europe. Willem Peter de Ridder then followed up with an insightful keynote presentation on Digital Darwinism; a phenomenon in which technology and society evolve faster than a business’s adaptive speed.
Panel- The Relevance of PensionTech for Future Generations
The second part of the agenda featured a thematically diverse schedule of speakers; all of whom sought to provide a more worldly nuance to the audience’s understanding of pensiontech. Sasja Keijmel of Mercer delivered an interesting presentation on how pension systems around the world can be measured and compared using Mercer Melbourne’s Global Index. Thomas Krogh Jensen, CEO of Copenhagen FinTech, enlightened the audience about the Danish pension landscape where more and more small startups are delivering core IT solutions for large pension companies. Mark Verschuren of Sprenkles Verschuren, Jochem Sluis of Physiotherapist Pension Fund and Anne Hudepohl of NN formed a panel in which they gave their respective views on how to engage millenials pensiontech and what innovation means to them. The final Fireside Chat featured Tony van der Zanden of Creative Dock, who emphasized the importance of effective execution in innovation.
The third part of the agenda featured sharing sessions with legal and theoretical experts who presented their pensiontech observations in relation to innovation and governance. Gerard Riemen of Pensionfederatie highlighted that blockchain can be used to minimize or even omit the functions of actuaries, accountants and IT personnel, thereby reducing asset management, pension administration and communication costs. Wim Koeleman of PWC highlighted four major trends in the Dutch pensiontech landscape: individualisation, freedom of choice, customer experience and cost efficiency. Sijbren Kuiper examined the governance principles in the Dutch Pensions Act, noting that there is less pressure to regulate tech in pensions because there is not as much tech innovation yet in comparison to other financial niches.
The last part of the agenda involved holding the much anticipated Dragon’s Den, where international pensiontech innovation showcasees are invited onto the stage to present their solutions before they are roasted by a dais composed key figures from established pension funds. The showcasees were Nies Fibaek-Jensen of Penstable, Bob Koster of Owlin, Jasper Martens of PensionBee, Marcel Nijland of Omniplan & Independer, and Jens Kam of Grandhood. The ‘dragons’, who came equipped with targeted questions about the showcasees’ solutions, were Joep Beukers of APG Groeifabriek, Tom Bottinga of GroupLife and Wouter van Eechoud of IBM Pension Fund.
Jasper Martens of PensionBee fields questions from the dais
Don and Jeroen wrapped up the summit by providing some conclusory remarks for reflection, especially about the importance of keeping other pensiontech stakeholders in the loop to ensure a continuous and enduring conversation. Attendees were then invited to celebrate the closing of the summit by feasting on warm appetizers and surveying the pensiontech marketplace.
All in all, we would like to express our gratitude to the The Hague City for being our official sponsor & co-host. We would also like to thank Powered by MN, APG, Pensioen Federation and Koninklijk Actuarieel Genootschap for their support in making the summit possible.