NETHERLANDS – The board of directors at the BPOA, the association for public pharmacists in the Netherlands, is to step down at the next annual meeting in June.

The news comes as the conflict grows between the BPOA and its rank-and-file members over an investigation into the financial position of the SPOA, the BPOA's beleaguered pension fund.

The Dutch Pharmacists Cooperation (Napco), representing more than 600 members, and the Association of Young Pharmacists (VJA) have insisted that private and independent foundation Sobi conduct an investigation into the pension fund's investment policy.

An initial survey by Sobi, based on an analysis provided by the pension fund, suggested the SPOA's financial position deviated significantly from other occupational pension funds, and that its investment returns were poor.

Sobi also said it could not confirm the SPOA's claim that its management costs were low.

However, the occupational pension association, which is responsible for the pension plan, said it wanted a "reputable" player, such as KPMG, Deloitte or Ernst & Young, to conduct the investigation.

As part of the dispute, statutory changes – proposed by the BPOA board, and necessary following new governance regulation – have not yet been approved by the members of the occupational association, which is tasked with nominating board members for the pension fund.

That said, Huub Derksema, chairman of Napco, argued that the most pressing issue was not the question of which organisation should conduct the investigation.

He argued that the conflict itself reflected a lack of confidence in the acting BPOA board.

"Transparency and communication with the members is insufficient, while we are also questioning the board's competency," he said.

Derksema also argued that the way the proposals for statutory changes were formulated did nothing to increase democracy within the BPOA.

"It seems the pension fund dictated the desired changes to the occupational society, rather than the other way round," he said.

Mark Hagenzieker, chairman of the pension fund SPOA, declined to comment.

The €1.2bn pension fund for public pharmacists had more than 4,740 participants at the end of 2011.

Following a 6.8% rights cut on 1 April, its coverage ratio is 100%.

The pension fund, which has not granted any indexation since 2009, returned 12.5% on investments last year.