Flirting with the quant life
“Taking a lot of money and using it to make even more money. This, in a nutshell, is what a lot of my fellow students did after graduation. Working for a trader was never an option for me. Early on in my degree programme I already knew that I wanted to work at DNB. I believe in what we do: ensuring solid and ethical financial institutions that fulfil their obligations.
When I joined the bank, I worked supervising health insurers. I really enjoyed the complex financial issues, but I quickly realised that I was lacking some key knowledge. I spoke with my manager about taking a Master's programme in Quantitative Risk Management. He was totally in favour of it, so we made arrangements for me to pursue another degree alongside my work. This really characterises DNB: not just facilitating continuing education, but actively encouraging it.
Surveying risky investments
I completed the degree programme, and I now work as a supervisory specialist in the Expert Centre on Financial Risk to Pension Funds. My tasks include conducting investment surveys. I work both on-site and off-site: sometimes I'm knee-deep in documentation at DNB, while other times I'm interviewing board members at the institutions in question. I am currently investigating a variable pension product, in which a portion of your accrued capital is invested outside the scope of the regular fund. This can result in higher pension benefits, but there are also greater risks involved.
This investigation is particularly interesting because we are working on it together with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). Our activities have a very clear legal demarcation: we from DNB assess whether the variable pension product meets all statutory requirements, while our colleagues from the AFM gauge whether the information provided to the consumer is sufficiently clear.
We take a risk-based approach by supervising pension funds and insurers where we expect problems to arise.
Scrutinising board members
When conducting investment surveys, we also interview individuals at the institution to ascertain whether their credentials check out and whether they actually run their business the way they claim. Insurers and pension funds draw up all sorts of policy documents. That's all well and good, of course, but we sometimes see them flouting their own policies in actual practice. As an example, I recently called someone to account about an interest rate hedge through a derivatives construction. It's very complicated stuff, but you'd expect people who invest in these vehicles to have some notion of what they're doing. At times like these, I become acutely aware of the need for scrutiny and supervision.
Room for everyone
For me, working at DNB means societal relevance, profound, real-world impact and excellent employment conditions such as continuing education. I am a DNB ambassador, and I often join in in-house projects aimed at recruiting students. I'm always amazed at how many students don't have a clear idea about what they want to do with their lives. DNB is an enormous organisation, with many divisions and people doing all sorts of jobs. We employ economists and quants, along with data analysts, legal experts and business economists. While involved in one of our recruitment drives, I met a student who came to DNB on an internship placement and who now works here. She was studying astronomy, of all things. But we need people with that background, too. We can teach you all the financial ins and outs right here.”
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