In Memoriam: Jaap Peters
On the passing of Jaap Peters, former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Aegon N.V.
Earlier this week, former Aegon executive Jaap Peters passed away at the age of 87. Peters was the former chairman of the Board of Directors of both Ennia and Aegon, and helped forge the merger between AGO and Ennia in 1983, from which Aegon was created.
Peters had previously joined the Nillmij in 1958, became a member of the board at Ennia in 1980, and then became chairman in 1983, until the merger between Ennia and AGO. He was chairman of Aegon's Board of Directors from 1984 until 1993, after which he was a member of the Supervisory Board until 2001.
Peters had learned a great deal from the difficult merger between the legal predecessors Nillmij and Eerste Nederlandsche in 1969. The lessons learned during that merger proved invaluable during the creation of Aegon in 1983, and the merger of the two companies became known as a shining example for the financial sector. Under his passionate leadership, the trail was blazed for further international expansion of the company.
Former members of the Board depict Peters as "A dualistic go-getter, and real native of Amsterdam. That was something he was proud of." And, "A real leader, comfortable with conducting and always in tune with the right tone. He was a master of the classics: solidarity, assurance and the market mindset." Peters preferred to portray himself as a "difficult gentleman", who thoroughly enjoyed his "Dennis the Menace" role in his early years on the Board of Directors.
Under Peters' lead, Aegon (as a shareholder) dug its heels in the sand during the merger between NMB Postbank and Nationale-Nederlanden in 1991. Peters was an outspoken opponent of merging banks with insurance companies. When he received the Knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 1988, he considered this as a recognition for the efforts of Aegon employees and many others in the sector, as he mentioned in his thank you message after being knighted. He continued to participate in sports competitions such as running, rowing, speed skating and cycling, together with other employees and despite his advancing years, and always under the Aegon flag.
Peters could not sit still even after his retirement. He sat on over ten Supervisory Boards for companies such as DAF, Samas and Monsanto. In addition, Peters initiated the founding of a new industry fund, collected donations for the charity Save the Children and provided mentorships to budding members of supervisory boards. As the chairman of the "Commission Corporate Governance", Peters dealt with rules for good governance in publicly traded enterprises. When asked how executives could regain the general public's trust, he answered, "In the usual way, just as you would at school, by behaving."
Jaap Peters felt a deep connection with Aegon, the company's legacy and issues pertaining to the world of insurance until the very last. His vast memory made him the person to consult for many, and always with a smile on his face, succinct and sharp. His wisdom will be dearly missed.