Your pension, your future
Love your future. Shell Pension.

November 2020

SNPS. Smarten up your future
Annual Report 2020 – Shell Nederland Pensioenfonds 

Björn de Mönnink & Martin ten Brink

“I have great confidence in our new communication policy”

There is no doubt that 2020 was a special year. How do Chair Martin ten Brink and Board Member Bjorn de Mönnink look back on it? An honest conversation about the corona pandemic, the Pension agreement and the future.

Bjorn: “Like you, I joined the board in the middle of the corona crisis. How was that experience for you?”

Martin: “Fortunately, I already knew a number of board members and SPN colleagues from my previous job, so I was not thrown in at the deep end. Nevertheless, I am sorry that we cannot get together physically. There have been many changes on the board; in such a situation it’s very valuable to meet in person.”

Bjorn: “I already knew most of the people, which made it easier to build the relationship virtually. Moreover, I was previously a member of the Accountability Committee (VO), so I already had a bit more knowledge. Still, it would be nice to be able to meet face to face again soon. How do you look back on the past year?

Martin: “It was a very eventful year, in which the global economy has taken a huge hit. The impact differs per sector: aviation, hospitality and tourism have been hit hard, while tech companies, for example, are doing well. In addition, there are big differences between countries.”

Bjorn: “This is the first major collective crisis I have experienced in my life, and for many it has had a deep personal impact. Sometimes with very pronounced negative outcomes, directly and indirectly (for example, as a result of the reorganisation within Shell). What I find remarkable is that the financial markets have recovered very quickly. If you had gone to a deserted island on 1 January 2020 and come back on 31 December, you would hardly have known that a deep economic crisis had occurred in the meantime.”

Martin: “Because of this rapid recovery, our investments have remained stable. It also makes a difference that we spread our investments, so the risks are spread. When some stocks fall, other stocks do well.”

Bjorn: “Although the financial markets are now showing peaks, I do wonder when and how a correction will occur. Governments have pumped a lot of money into the economy, resulting in large budget deficits. That must have consequences at some point.”

Martin: “There will undoubtedly be some. One that is already drawing the attention of financial markets is rising inflationary pressure. Fortunately, in addition to economic uncertainty and the unprecedented personal suffering that our participants are also experiencing, the corona crisis is also providing some bright spots. For instance, there is more attention for the people around us.”

Bjorn: “That’s right. I also notice this in myself. Because of this crisis, I have a much deeper connection with the people I work with. With virtual meetings, you literally get a peek into each other’s private lives. You realise much more that you are dealing with people who all have their own struggles.”

“This crisis has given me a much deeper connection with the people I work with”
— Martin ten Brink

Martin: “I also think it is a positive development that working remotely is going so well. Due to the excellent digital infrastructure in the Netherlands, there are hardly any problems, and that is highly appreciated by most people.”

Bjorn: “I think this crisis has made us realise that working five days a week at the office does not have to be the rule. On the contrary. My expectation is that we will work much more flexibly in the future. A good development if you ask me: it gives people a chance to better combine work and private life.”

Martin: “Have you yourself experienced a better balance lately?”

Bjorn: “I have thirteen-year-old triplets. I would not have seen them so much if I had been in the office five days a week and had travelled regularly. They started middle school last year, and I have been able to experience a lot of that now. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think working completely from home is ideal either. I am convinced that people need other people around them, especially in creative processes. How about you; you probably imagined your retirement would start differently?”

Martin: “Absolutely. Unfortunately, I had to postpone certain plans. Travelling, attending cultural events, enjoying a bite to eat and a drink outside... But these are luxuries, of course. These pale in comparison to the challenges that some face.”

Bjorn: “Something completely different: I notice that a lot of people are concerned with the Pension agreement and are wondering what it will mean for them.”

Martin: “The Pension agreement comprises of many aspects. That makes it complex. The most important thing is that there will be a defined contribution scheme, where the amount of the pension is linked to the investment return. This makes pensions less secure, but more affordable. In addition, the premium will be age-independent, so that everyone has the same pension accrual.”

Bjorn: “I am curious to see what will come out of the talks between the social partners, Shell and the Central Works Council (COR). It is now up to them to work out the main lines of a pension scheme that is in line with the new legislation.”

Martin: “The choices they make are very decisive for the board. However, it is up to us to determine whether the new scheme is workable and the interests of all participants are balanced.”

Bjorn: “I am confident that they will work something out. If there is one fund that fits in well with the new system, it is SNPS... Another important item on the agenda this year is to further weave sustainability criteria into our investment policy.”

“Although the financial markets are now even showing peaks, I do wonder when and how there will be a correction”
– Bjorn de Mönnink

Martin: “SNPS is a relatively small, young fund. We have made great strides in the field of socially responsible investing (ESG) in a short time and I am proud of that. Now it is a question of making our policy more sustainable.”

Bjorn: “It is nice to see that our participants also value sustainability. The response to the ‘participant survey ESG’ we conducted last year was huge. It is important that the board continues to ensure that the ESG implementation is in line with what participants have in mind. Because in addition to sustainability, a good pension is also important.”

Martin: “Fortunately, profitability and sustainability go hand in hand. There are plenty of studies showing that ESG investments provide better returns. In that respect, socially responsible investing is a win-win situation.”

Bjorn: “It is up to us to make sure that all the choices we make are clear to the participants and that they know where to turn with questions.”

Martin: “I have complete faith in our new communication policy, which focuses on transparency (a clear message), awareness (what impact will it have on me?) and perspective (encouragement to act).” Moreover, our way of communicating is becoming more and more personal. The fact that participants can now make video calls if they have questions about their pensions is a very good extension of the service we offer our participants. But I also expect, for example, that the new administration system being developed by our pension provider will contribute to more transparency and better insight.”

Bjorn: “We are already well on our way, but do you have any personal goals for this year?”

Martin: “Stay healthy. That is my number one priority. And, of course, I hope to be able to return to normal life soon and make up for part of 2020. What are your goals?”

Bjorn: “Staying in balance. The corona time has been intense. I notice that especially now that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I think we have to take extra good care of ourselves and carry the positive elements from the past period with us. Then hopefully for most it will be a good memory of a bad time.”

Spirited leader

Bjorn de Mönnink has been a non-executive board member of SNPS since 2020. Previously, he was a member of the Accountability Body (VO). Bjorn finds pension matters anything but boring and wants to expand his expertise in the near future. In addition to his role as director, he enjoys working at Shell as Finance Manager for Capital Projects.
— Bjorn de Mönnink

Former Shell stalwart and bon vivant
A A man with a red and yellow heart: that is Martin ten Brink in a nutshell. After more than 35 years of service, he retired from Shell last year to make more time for his family and many interests. As Chair of SNPS, he is still closely involved with the fund and is committed to a good Shell pension.
— Martin ten Brink