Not all new financial rules for pension funds will be introduced on 1 January 2015 as planned, Jetta Klijnsma, the Dutch state secretary for Social Affairs has suggested.
In answers following consultations with parliament, Klijnsma hinted that some parts of the new regulatory framework might be introduced later.
ABP chairman Henk Brouwer, responded positively to Klijnsma’s suggestion.
“Everything that could contribute to decrease the risk that pension funds won’t get sufficient time to implement the rules is welcome,” he said.
But Gerard Riemen, director of the Pensions Federation, was less conciliatory. “I can’t work with hints,” he commented, demanding that the state secretary take the objections of the sector against introduction on 1 January into account.
Riemen added that he would not be surprised if the introduction of the FTK were be executed in stages.
However, neither Brouwer nor Jan Tamerus, chief actuary at PGGM, fiduciary manager for the healthworkers’ fund PFZW, said they could envisage how the rules could be cut up and separated.
Tamerus believed that Klijnsma was likely referring an increase in the options for collective risk-sharing for defined contribution plans, which could could come into force later than 1 January.
But both Brouwer and Tamerus expected that pension funds with defined benefit plans would not have much to gain from those increased options. “I am following my intuition here,” said Brouwer. “If pension funds such as ABP and PFZW want to use these options, than they must close their scheme and agree new pension arrangements with their participants. This is how it goes with collective DC plans.”
In Tamerus’s opinion, the introduction of the full FTK on 1 January would not pose a problem based on what is known about the coming changes. “These could be implemented straight away. Only an amendment of current legislation would be sufficient.”
Several political parties had asked the state secretary whether she still deemed the introduction of the updated financial assessment framework (FTK) achievable on 1 January.
Part of the process is consultations with the employers and unions about adjusting pensions plans, which usually require more time than changing systems and processes.
Klijnsma indicated that she is now considering how to introduce the draft legislation, which is currently with the Council of State (RvS) for a legal assessment.
She reiterated in parliament earlier this week that the aim of the new rules is to better guarantee accrued pensions for the short and medium term, and that a discussion about the future of the retirement system – to be started this year – is meant to safeguard pensions for the long term.
The state secretary further made clear that she wanted an additional survey of the merits of the average premium approach, which is increasingly opposed by younger generations.