INTERVIEW – LOUISE INSELMANN Leading Business Support in the Pensions and Investments department at ATP, Denmark’s largest pensions fund, Louise Inselmann is a part of the team that carries the future of 5.6 million members on its shoulders. That’s a good proportion of Denmark’s total population, which currently numbers almost six million. It’s a staggering responsibility on all counts, but one that the COO says has been made manageable by three main factors: automation, data transparency, and perhaps most importantly, keeping things simple. 

As a government-backed institution, Inselmann describes ATP as “a little bit different from all the other players in the market”. The firm is focused on only “one thing” – lifelong pensions – and caters to only one type of customer, the Danes. As such, prudence and stewardship are the key guiding principles behind its investments.

Inselmann shares an analogy: “There’s one highway, and there doesn’t have to be detours. If there are detours, it’s our own doing; it’s because we have made something too complex for ourselves.”


This focus on simplicity has become the enabler for many not-so-simple transformations within the organisation.

Applied to the choice of investment products, simplicity has led to extensive automation. ATP currently boasts a straight-through-processing (STP) rate of above 99 per cent, allowing a team of just seven to settle, reconcile, and manage liquidity for about 85,000 transactions a year.

“When you trade something that you can’t operationally support, that’s where you will have all the manual processes, print-outs, work-arounds, and hacks,” says Inselmann. Sticking to “standardised products” has allowed the firm to be “more algorithmically focused, more IT driven”.

The data tells all

The team at ATP runs what Inselmann describes as “a very digital ship”. An emerging priority in its digital journey is data transparency, motivated not only by the fact that it goes hand-in-hand with automation, but also by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

Language modelling in AI has allowed the automation of tasks that historically, have been very difficult to automate, such as one of the firm’s ongoing projects, PDF reading within alternative investments.

“If data is not stringent or transparent, it limits the individual employee in what they can do,” Inselmann points out.

The targeted business outcome for improved data transparency “is not necessarily investing more”. “It’s about being more detailed and specifying better the risk calculations and the value proposition,” she shares. “It’s about being able to follow the underlying investments closer because you can take in more data than you historically could on a manual basis.”

Despite steering such a large “digital ship”, ATP hasn’t had to outsource much of its technology. In fact, automation has created a virtuous cycle that feeds its own technological loop – the high level of automation that has already been established in back office processes such as settlement and reconciliation further reduces the need to outsource these sectors.  

For Inselmann, successful outsourcing is about striking a delicate balance with internal competency. “You can outsource anything except for responsibility, so you would always need to have someone internally who knows (the outsourced processes),” she says. “The more that is outsourced, the smaller the business case is for having people internally working with it, so you are very much at risk of having a key person dependency.”

A transformative mindset

As ATP’s technological transformation continues, the management has adapted its approach to fit. “We allow employees to run with ideas for some time, thus allowing the sandbox mentality of actually experimenting with things.”

This shift in mentality is a relatively recent occurrence. “My statement would have been different even one year ago,” Inselmann admits. “It has changed quite fast for me because AI development has been a blurry picture. But when you start to work with some of these things, you see that it is not a huge threatening thing to be avoided at all costs, but a tool we need to figure out how to use in a beneficial way. It’s good to acknowledge what it is that we fear, and people have come to see the AI picture a little more clearly over the past year.”

For more on technological transformation and outsourcing in the post-trade landscape, join us at the upcoming PostTrade 360° Nordic 2024 conference. Zoom in on these topics in two sessions: “All-in-one or pick-and-mix? Nailing the future-proof IT architecture at the asset manager” on 4 September and “In-house versus outsourcing – Striking the perfect balance for the operating model” on 5 September. Bastiaan Aalders, Director of EU Operations Practice at consultancy firm AlphaFMC, will be leading both sessions, accompanied by a panel of industry insiders. Get your ticket here.