The people behind the pension fund: Fred Nieuwland

16 February 2023

Fred Nieuwland is the new chairperson of Mars Pension Fund. After introducing himself, he discusses his new role as chairperson and shares his vision of the future of Mars Pension Fund.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Fred Nieuwland, almost 58 years old. My wife and I live in Weert,  half an hour’s drive from family and friends in South Limburg. We’ve been living there for 23 years. I studied econometrics in Tilburg and completed my PhD in Finance at the University of Maastricht. Before joining Mars, I held various positions in which I was either involved in investment management for pension funds or advising pension funds regarding their investment policy.

How did you end up at Mars?

That’s an interesting story. At the time, I was working in Amsterdam and commuted to work every day by train. Early in the morning, I used to take the free Metro newspaper with me to read in the train. One day, I did something that I had never done before and have never done again since: I read my horoscope. It said that Mars would soon cross my path. I didn’t really pay much attention to it, but that same evening when I took the train back home, I had the Financial Daily News with me, and I noticed a job advertisement from Mars in it. I thought to myself that it couldn’t be a coincidence, applied for the job, and was hired.

What has your career with Mars been like until now?

In 2006, I started as EMEA Investment Manager. In that role, I supervised the asset management of the European Mars Pension funds. Starting in 2015, I worked at the head office of Mars in McLean for the next three years as Chief Investment Officer. The original idea was for me to remain in the US, but after a few years I realized that I was actually spending as much time in Europe as in the US. That is why I returned to Veghel and the Netherlands in 2018. As Chief Investment Officer, I lead a team tasked with supervising the asset management of all the Mars Pension funds.

How did you become chairperson of Mars Pension Fund?

After 25 years, William van Ettinger, the previous chairperson, made it clear that he wished to step down. Mars then asked me if I would be willing to take over as chairperson. The fund is now entering an important transition phase and, in view of my day-to-day activities, I would be closely involved in this transition anyway, so I said yes. After the Board agreed, the supervisory authority, the Dutch National Bank (DNB), was asked to approve the appointment. In January, the DNB gave its approval, and I was officially appointed to the position of chairperson.

What do you most look forward to in your new role as chairperson?

What I look forward to the most is having a complete overview of the entire transition to the new pension scheme. It’s an enormous undertaking, and a lot of new challenges will be coming our way. It will require a great deal of preparation, the entire transition must be planned out, and we have to ensure that the implementation goes smoothly and effectively. It will be quite intense, but I see it as a great challenge to successfully manage the transition.

What do you hope to achieve at Mars Pension Fund?

I hope to ensure that everyone involved in the transition to the new pension scheme - and that includes the pension fund Board, the employer, the Works Council, Accountability and Supervisory Councils and of course all the members - comes to the conclusion that it really is a good new scheme for all members. It goes without saying that we will have to take everyone’s interests into account. If, in the end, all the stakeholders can say, “Yes, this is a good scheme for all members and everyone’s interests have been taken into account,” then I will have achieved what I wished to achieve.

Do you have a personal pension tip for our participants?

Without wishing to sound too much like a schoolteacher , I would say, “Think carefully about your pension.” Don’t wait until 5 years before you retire, but start thinking about it when you start your career. After all, the longer your horizon is, the more opportunities you will have to save something extra or take appropriate measures if necessary. You’ll be working 40 to 45 years and then you’ll still have 20 to 25 years to go. So start sooner rather than later with thinking about what you’ll want to do later and what kind of income you wish to have when you actually retire.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say?

I would like to shine the spotlight on the Talent Pool of the pension fund. At Mars Pension Fund, we are always looking for motivated associates who wish to contribute to the Accountability Council or the pension fund Board. We can never have too many people in our Talent Pool, and you can learn from it as well. After all, the work done by the pension fund Board is about your income after your retirement!