About Syntrus Achmea
Syntrus Achmea finances, develops and invests in real estate and mortgages on behalf of pension funds and other institutional investors. Syntrus Achmea opts for sustainable investments with financial and social returns.
We talk to Bruno Oudega and Hugo Ouwehand about two migration projects in Achmea’s mortgage business unit. The first project is the migration to the Topicus mortgage solution; the second project is the transfer of a commercial mortgage portfolio to RNHB.
Bruno Oudega: “I’m the director of mortgages at Achmea, and I’m responsible for the mortgage activities within Achmea. These activities are bundled in Syntrus Achmea. We carry four brands: Woonfonds, Centraal Beheer, Syntrus and Attens.
We provide a full service: on the one hand, the investors, often pension funds and other institutional investors, and on the other, the consumer who wants a roof over his head. Everything in between is our job to take good care of.”
Hugo Ouwehand: “I’ve worked at Achmea my entire career. I started at Staalbankiers in the real estate financing profession. Currently, I’m responsible for the operation within Syntrus Achmea: the process from mortgage application to final repayment.”
We are talking about two projects. First of all, the migration to Topicus. What were the business drivers?
Hugo: “Our own custom system was in an end-of-life situation that had to be replaced. What we wanted to achieve with a new system is better maintainability, efficient process management and good support for our online services. After an extensive market selection, we opted for the Topicus mortgage system.”
Have the goals been achieved?
Bruno: “We now have a modern platform with which we can develop further. We’ve achieved our maintainability and vulnerability targets. In terms of efficiency, we haven’t quite achieved what we had in mind. And that’s logical, so soon after going live - the system is still in full development. This also applies to the support of our online services: this is also still under development.”
What prompted the other project, the portfolio that went to RNHB?
Hugo: “After the credit crisis in 2007-2008, the appetite of investors changed their risk awareness - as a result, residential mortgages were rated more favourably than commercial real estate financing. As a result, we have shifted our focus to residential mortgages.”
Bruno: “As a result of our focus on residential mortgages, we sold to RNHB jointly with and on behalf of our participants in the commercial mortgage fund. RNHB therefore wants to take over the portfolio as soon as possible and manage it itself. This has led to a data migration project with the aim of: how can we transfer that portfolio to RNHB as quickly as possible.”
But transferring mortgage portfolios is quite common, isn’t it? What made this situation different?
Bruno: “In this situation, not only was the beneficial ownership transferred to the receiving party, but so was the servicing.”
In November 2020, Achmea Bank acquired a portfolio of Dutch residential mortgages from BinckBank. The mortgage service provider did not change and there was therefore no data migration.
Bruno: “We ensure investors can invest in mortgages. It’s very important that the investment also has mobility in mortgage investments - so an investor isn’t stuck in that portfolio.”
Very different projects, yet one migration partner?
Hugo: “Yes, very different indeed. One project was a project like so many. The other project, the RNHB migration, was a real rush job. In the latter case, DX really came up trumps. They jumped in and took the whole project in tow.”
They jumped in and took the whole project in tow.
Bruno: “As such, DX shows they’re not a one-trick pony. There is indeed one quality that was very important in both projects: flexibility. During the migration to Topicus, the target environment was still in motion while the migration project was already running. At RNHB, the approach had to be tailored to optimal quality in a very limited time. DX has shown that if things have to be done differently - things can be done differently.”
Hugo: “The start of the projects was very different. We were in contact with DX, even before a choice was made for Topicus. We were therefore very well-prepared for this project. There was little preparation time for the RNHB migration - just a ‘go’ by telephone; you’ve got work to do tomorrow!”
What were the highlights of the Topicus migration?
Hugo: “As Syntrus Achmea had little migration experience, we needed more expertise. It’s very reassuring to have DX on board. I see DX’s involvement as a highlight. In addition, of course, the migration itself. It’s still exciting, even with all the preparations. When all the signals are green on Sunday morning, that’s a real highlight!”
Can you name the lows of the migration?
Hugo: “I can be brief about that. The migration project had no low points.”
What were the highlights of the RNHB migration?
Bruno: “Flexibility, coming up trumps - really being there. Achieve a hassle-free migration in a very short time. DX knew the target system - that makes a difference and DX was able to quickly put in the miles.”
Hugo: “DX has built a bridge between parties - and not just technically!”
The migration project had no low points.
Data migration - a partner for all migrations or do you look at it per project?
Bruno: “For us, migration is uncommon - and that’s the way we like it. So we look at it project by project. For these projects, we had a clear preference to work with DX. They know the source and target systems and our subject.”
Would you do things differently next time?
Hugo: “No, I think we’ve done the migration projects really well - I’d do it that way again next time. ”
Bruno: “Of course we have learnings in the project, things that we’ll do differently next time. As far as the migrations are concerned, I fully agree with Hugo”
Thank you for this interview!