Interview Hans Snijders
With applause and a virtually unanimous vote, on 2 September the Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders of KAS BANK approved the proposed appointment of Hans Snijders as a new supervisory director of KAS BANK. His 4-year term of office commenced straight after the meeting. “An appointment as supervisory director is a particularly great honour, as well as being socially important,” says Hans Snijders. “I am keen to make use of my time at the company to contribute to the further development of KAS BANK.”
Hans Snijders was first approached as a potential successor to Jean Frijns back in February 2016. He was interested right away. “I was already familiar with KAS BANK from my past at Achmea Investment Services, but that’s not the same as getting heavily involved in a company.” Snijders took plenty of time preparing for his role. As well as reading thick piles of policy documents, he talked at length with the members of the Supervisory Board and Board of Directors, the senior management and the Works Council. His main focus was the relationship between IT and issues relating to commercial development, Risk and Operations, his remit on the Supervisory Board (SB). Once De Nederlandsche Bank had given its approval, his nomination could be definitively announced.
Sticking to the path
Hans Snijders has plenty of management experience under his belt, in both IT and business. When he was just 28 years old, he was managing 150 employees. “The main thing that taught me was that you have to earn the loyalty of your customers anew each and every day. That’s true of every organisation, including KAS BANK. Everyone at the company has to be aware that they are pulling in the same direction. As a manager, you have to lead by example by spending time with your staff. At the same time, you have to remain critical of who you are and what you’re doing as a company. Markets change, the needs of your customers change - and you have to keep pace. Right now, KAS BANK is in the middle of just such a change process. For me, it is a challenge to help shape that process. Without, I should point out, stepping into the Board of Directors’ shoes. Supervising and giving advice to the Board of Directors is our statutory task. So, as a Supervisory Board, you constantly have to ask yourself: is everything working properly? Is the strategy still consistent with the low risk propensity? What’s the situation with Risk and Compliance? A strategy is not a static blueprint for the future, but a dynamic process. And it is our job to constantly review whether the path carved out is still within the agreed boundaries.”
In this respect, Snijders argues that ‘historic experience’ should not be too readily disregarded. The draft governance code for supervisory boards stipulates a maximum term of office of 8 years for a supervisory director (with the possibility of being renewed twice for 2-year periods). Although Snijders advocates regular turnover on the Supervisory Board, he is also concerned that the “common thread” of supervision is being lost. “In the financial sector in particular, the legislation and regulation is becoming ever more complicated. Because of this, even as a supervisory director, you have to constantly develop and learn. So it can be a pity if that knowledge disappears after 8 years, purely because your time is up. There is turnover, as there is within a company’s management. What I really am in favour of is the promotion of diversity. Not just at executive level, but throughout the organisation. An organisation must, to some extent, always be a reflection of society. This makes you richer and better and helps you get ahead as a company.”
Keep surprising the customer
During his appointment process, Snijders held lengthy discussions with all kinds of people at KAS BANK. Over the coming weeks and months, he also wants to spend time in the departments covered by his remit as supervisory director. “As a team, it’s a good idea on every level to constantly ask yourself whether you are still doing the right things for the customer. Keep surprising the customer. Their loyalty must never be taken for granted. This doesn’t mean always doing what the customer asks of you. Being customer-focused is not about being at the behest of the customer no matter what. Explain what you are doing, be clear about what the customer can expect of you and fulfil those expectations. And do everything in your power to achieve that together. In this regard, I’ll be very happy if customer satisfaction has risen to at least 8.5 four years from now.”
Always draw on your own strengths
With mounting national and European legislation and reporting obligations, the act of managing and running a company is becoming increasingly complicated and challenging. Because of this, managers of pension funds are also subjecting their own organisation to closer scrutiny. “To the point where you say: do I have to carry on doing everything myself as a pension fund? Do I have enough expertise on board to properly monitor my asset manager? Wouldn’t it be better to outsource our back office to a specialist? This is where KAS BANK’s particular strength lies. Along the entire activity chain, an independent administration bank is becoming more and more important. Purely as an administrator, but also and most importantly as a party whose specialist knowledge of the pension and securities sector enables it to raise the entire process to a higher level for everyone concerned. KAS BANK can, for instance, take the lead in creating a clear format for all the data that asset managers have to provide for the financial assessment framework. You also have to consider whether you can make use of the scale of other parties to innovate yourself in areas in which you have a tactical advantage. If you do this, you are always drawing on your own strengths and there is a healthy prospect of further growth.”
J. (Hans) H.G. Snijders (1956) studied business administration at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, before attending training courses for Chief Information Officers, Supervisory Directors and Regulators. In 1984, at the age of 28, he was made Director of L + T Informatica. After this, he held managerial roles at Pink Roccade, ASZ, Relan and Ordina. He then became CEO, first at Syntrus Achmea and then, until February 2016, Achmea Investment Management. Since 2006 he has also been a Director of Cquinn Consulting.
As well as his role as supervisory director at KAS BANK, since November 2014 Hans Snijders has been Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance. A native of Brabant, he is also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Commanderij College, member of the Supervisory Board of Rabo Peel Noord and President of the Stichting Meifeesten Gemert-Bakel.