Transparency and trust

The confectionary industry pension fund Bedrijfstakpensioenfonds voor de Zoetwarenindustrie has had € 30 million invested in Bouwinvest’s Residential Fund since July 2014. Chairman Leo Dekker says the fund opted for this particular investment because it wanted to invest in real estate and more specifically Dutch residential real estate. “Our research revealed that Bouwinvest was the best investment manager. That was primarily because of the quality of the underlying portfolio, which scored the highest. The research also looked at the stability of the team, their professionalism, the environmental, social and corporate governance (CSR) scores, and of course fund performance.”

Professionalism and client focus

Investments in property require a long-term relationship with the asset manager, says Dekker. “In a share mandate or investments in emerging market debt, you can change managers pretty quickly and easily. That’s very different with real estate. So you need to pay extra attention to whether the parties are the ones you want to do business with. We expect a professional party that does what it promises and has a clear client focus. What you want is transparency and trust.”

“Before we decided to go with Bouwinvest, we did have some concerns about bpfBOUW being such a major shareholder in the fund,” says Leonne Jansen. “We are much smaller and that raised the question of how they would view us and what our position would be? Bouwinvest has taken this into consideration right from the start. We are treated as a full partner in the fund’s shareholder committee. Our questions are taken seriously and they have shown that they are indeed willing to listen to us carefully.”

Dekker says the seat on the Fund’s shareholder committee ensures a direct commitment to Bouwinvest. “The ties between investor and asset manager are much closer. I have been to two of the shareholders’ meetings and the atmosphere is good. Communications are open and transparent and the reports look professional. I get the feeling I am dealing with professionals.”

The fact that all of Bouwinvest’s funds have a Green Star is a bonus for the pension fund, which has made the integration of CSR factors into its investment decisions one of its key focal points. “It is good that we can show our participants that we are taking steps when it comes to ESG.” As from 1 January, Zoetwaren has investments of € 50 million with Bouwinvest. “We would like to invest a further € 40 million with Bouwinvest, but that will have to wait a while.”

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