‘I started my career at ABN AMRO Asset Management, which at the time was more or less a training institute for asset management in the Netherlands. I then moved to the pension fund PGGM, where I managed assets for a single customer. Eventually, I missed the commercial setting with a range of customers. I’ve worked at NN Investment Partners (NN IP) since 2007 when it was called ING Investment Management. Following the separation of ING into a bank and an insurance company, we moved with NN Group because we also managed the insurer’s assets.’

Head of Multi-Asset
‘At NN, I started as a portfolio manager and was immediately given responsibility for a number of portfolios. I carried out transactions in the portfolios of course and was also responsible for customer accountability. As the Head of Multi-Asset, I currently have ultimate responsibility for the performance of all portfolios with several investment categories, such as equities, bonds, liquidities, and other investment instruments. I also look at the asset allocation top-down: the allocation of assets across the various categories. I usually let my specialist colleagues chose the underlying securities.’

‘I’m also a member of the Investment Management management team, which involves lots of meetings. As well as this, I stay in touch with our customers and prospects of course, because if we have satisfied customers and we find new customers, we can allow our investment funds to grow. So, my work is very varied.’

A challenging period
‘The investment market is competitive, complicated and is currently entering a challenging period. Anglo Saxon businesses, in particular, have a big finger in the pie in this market. Lots of customers are currently opting for passive investment funds that track a particular index, such as the S&P 500 and which are cheaper. We’re also witnessing increasing pressure on the margins. Because of low-interest rates, the returns on the portfolios for many customers will probably be on the low side over the next few years. It will be more difficult to put together an attractive portfolio for your customers and so we’ll have to do much more to meet the wishes of the customer.’

‘This is why we’ll make the difference in other areas in future years. We now have a lot of experience with Responsible and Sustainable Investment, taking account of the ESG factors (Environment, Society, Governance). Given that there’s lots of interest in sustainable investment, both among institutional and private investors, we’ll be expanding this further over the next few years.’

Big data
‘We’re also looking increasingly at big data, which can add huge value. To monitor inflation, you used to have to depend on Statistics Netherlands, for example. Now you can get an inflation indicator live and 24 hours a day by monitoring the prices of online retailers. We also look at people’s behaviour. What do digital news sources and social media tell us about their emotions? This is important because the financial market is an interplay of people and has no legality.’

‘So, what makes working at NN IP so enjoyable? First of all, I’ve got a lot of great colleagues around me. And then, there are always new challenges to embrace here. Responsible Investment, Behavioural economics, Big data, giving access to the best research and the greatest data. In brief, NN IP offers young professionals huge opportunities for development.’

Ewout van Schaick, Head of Multi Asset, NN Investment Partners