NETHERLANDS - A significant proportion of all Dutch pension providers and insurers may still not be ready to implement the new rules on providing information to pension funds' participants, according to the regulator AFM.

The Authority Financial Markets found, in a self-assessment study of providers at the end of last year, approximately one-third of the providers were insufficiently prepared for new communications requirements which came into force January 1 2008.

The worst performers must explain their low score within six weeks and provide additional information about the present situation, while the regulator said it has asked the high-scoring providers for best practice examples.

Based on the new Pension Act and the Act on Occupational Pension Schemes (WvB), providers and insurers must provide pension fund members with ‘timely and comprehensible' information about the build-up of their pension in a uniform pension statement. The same goes for the so-called ‘start letter', which workers receive when they change jobs.

The AFM is also checking to ensure providers and insurers demonstrate a duty of care in cases where defined contribution arrangements give members freedom of choice on investments.

As part of that requirement, providers must ask participants for their investors' profile in order to adjust their investments accordingly.

The information watchdog found approximately 30% of all 614 surveyed providers were lagging behind on information delivery, while 40% fell short of the required duty of care.

However, the Dutch association of industry-wide pension funds, VB, is unhappy with the AFM's publication of these figures.

"They are based on six-months-old data, reflecting the situation before the rules became mandatory," pointed out Leny van der Heiden, acting director at VB. "I have no indication that providers are not ready now."

In Van der Heiden's opinion, the AFM's survey was conducted at too early a stage because the actual pension statements only usually become available during the course of the year.

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