In 2013, I started in the actuarial department at Delta Lloyd Life. When Financial Risk Management separated from the department, I moved with it. Since Delta Lloyd and Nationale-Nederlanden joined forces, I’ve been working in Rotterdam as a financial risk manager for Nationale-Nederlanden’s life business. I’m actually a technical business consultant, but I’ve now nearly finished my training to become a qualified actuary, which has been facilitated entirely by my employer.

It’s no coincidence that I found myself working for a large financial services provider. Before 2013, I worked at a number of smaller companies, but after a couple of years, I found that I was looking to expand or deepen my knowledge. It was more difficult to do this at these small employers. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the actuarial or risk management field and that I wanted to stay with an employer for longer, so a large company with opportunities for progression was a logical step.

Risk management essentially means ensuring that the business is in good financial shape. I work in what is referred to as the second-line risk management team. We keep track of and monitor the financial policy and advise on it. This means working with my colleagues on such things as the Solvency II report, which has to be delivered quarterly. We test how much capital we need to hold to withstand financial risks, such as a stock market crash.

In the past few months I’ve been working on the implementation of the so-called partial internal model, which we use to measure risks. Nationale-Nederlanden was already working with its own model that had been approved by De Nederlandsche Bank. I and my colleagues, including some from other disciplines, introduced aspects of this model at Delta Lloyd Life. It’s a large and enjoyable project, because I was able to draw on many individual elements of what I had learnt during my studies and build a bridge between theory and practice.

I’m also involved in advice and policy relating to specific risks, such as the inflation risk. For example, some pension contracts commit to increasing the pension benefits of members in line with inflation. This is how the pension retains its value. As an insurer, we bear the risk that we have to pay out more if inflation rises. We have to measure and manage this risk of course. It’s a complex and challenging risk.

And there are countless other risk challenges at Nationale-Nederlanden. If you look at the developments on the financial markets, you see that we’re currently experiencing a longer period of low interest rates and subdued returns on certain investments. As a financial service provider, we aim for an optimum return. At the same time, the risks must be and must remain manageable. The tension between return and risk is fascinating.

At Nationale-Nederlanden I really have the opportunity to express myself. I work with figures and also get to study alongside my work. You’re given a lot of independence here, so that you can set your own path. Working in a team with professional colleagues means that we can help each other and learn a lot from each other. This happens in an informal, open culture, in which you’re free to say what’s on your mind, and you’re listened to. That’s why I enjoy my work so much.

Tom van Beek
Financial Risk Manager, Nationale-Nederlanden