Amsterdam, a city where many financial companies have settled and there are high-rise buildings as far as the eye can see. In one of these massive structures the office of APG is located, a well-known company among econometricians. APG manages and administers the pension assets of around 4.5 million Dutch citizens and has over 340 billion Assets Under Management. Floris and I met up with Lieke van der Horst, a 23-year-old trainee at APG.
Lieke was born and raised in Helmond. After high school, she studied International Business in Tilburg. After finishing her Bachelor and a Master in Finance, she decided to pursue a second Master’s degree: Economics and Finance of Aging. During this Master, she discovered that pensions are a very interesting topic for academics in Economics and Finance, as a large variety of things have to be taken into account in pension analysis. During her studies she also went on exchange to Orlando for four months, where she studied at the University of Central Florida. This international experience has definitely enriched her, because she experienced another culture, a different educational system and she gained a lot of knowledge.
Life after studying
Lieke is one of those people who knew that she wanted to work in the financial industry after her studies, but was unsure about the particular job that she wanted to fulfill. For her, the APG Asset Management Traineeship was the perfect opportunity to sort this out. The APG Traineeship provides two years of personal coaching, training and peer supervision. During this period, you get to see several sides of working at APG Asset Management. During the Traineeship you get four different assignments of half a year each at one of the departments of Finance and Risk, Front Office, Mid Office and Client Management. You will work on an individual project, but also engage in the day-to-day activities of the department. Lieke is doing her first assignment at the Operational Risk Management department. Her assignment is to describe the business processes of the Finance and Risk department within APG Asset Management.
Application for the APG Traineeship
Only four people out of two hundred applicants are selected for the traineeship at APG. The selection procedure consists of several steps. Firstly, you have to write an application letter and sent in your résumé, together with your transcript. Consequently, 25 applicants are selected for a day called “APG Match”. The APG Match is an excellent way for the applicants to get to know APG and for APG to select the right candidates for the Traineeship. During this day, the applicants will have three speed date interviews of fifteen minutes with several managers from APG. You will have lunch with the current trainees and you will work together with some of the other applicants on a business case, which includes a group presentation. Furthermore, you have to pitch yourself to convince APG that you are one of their new trainees. After this intensive day, APG will select the ten best candidates for the Traineeship who are invited to take an intelligence and a personality test. Subsequently, a recruiter from APG will provide you with your test results and will ask whether you recognize yourself in these results. After this round, you might be invited for a final interview with a manager and HR advisor. After this round, four persons are selected for the Asset Management Traineeship.
Training and development
APG offers a personal mentor during the two year long Traineeship, who will guide you and will help you to develop yourself. During the Asset Management Traineeship you can start the CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst – designation. Participating in this educational program is not obligatory, but it is strongly recommended. The CFA designation is one of the most respected and renowned investment credential in the world. Besides the CFA designation, APG offers additional training and education during the Traineeship: examples are the World of Pensions program at Maastricht University, which expands your knowledge of pension related topics and a training focusing on presenting yourself or personal branding.
As an Asset Management Trainee at APG you will get a salary which is in line with the market wage for similar programs and there is a great work-life balance. Furthermore, APG offers the chance to take big steps and many ways to grow within the company. As a trainee, you are offered time and space to find your way around the company and this allows you to get an insight in the possibilities after the traineeship.
Tips and tricks for a job interview
Lieke has perceived that marks are definitely important during the application procedure. A mark of 7 to 7.5 is often required. However, companies also focus on extracurricular activities, such as studying abroad, participation in committees, a board position, an internship, or relevant side jobs. It is encouraged to participate in these kind of activities, as these are an enrichment for you as a person. Furthermore, it is also important to show that you can be assertive and take initiative in your job. Lieke also noted that MATLAB is used a lot within APG, hence it is an addition to your résumé when you have some skills in using MATLAB.
To conclude, if you want to apply for the Asset Management Traineeship at APG make sure to stand out of the crowd and highlight your unique traits. APG is currently recruiting for the APG Traineeship, starting October 1, 2014. You can apply until April 30.
Text by: Mike Weltevrede