NETHERLANDS – Dutch pension provider Cordares wants to increase its focus on commercial activities in new markets and others sectors as part of a strategic growth plan, it has announced.

Currently, Cordares is developing an innovative pension product for the new union Alternatief voor Vakbond.

“It will be an open defined contribution scheme, based on user-friendliness, target capital and risk returns,” Jeroen Tielman, managing director strategy, sales and innovation, told IPE.

Another new activity for Cordares is the collection of land draining rates for district water boards, or ‘waterschappen’, for which the first clients have already signed up, Tielman added.

Cordares aims at this market, because of its low administrative costs, enabled by its own IT department, which are 26% lower than the average in its peer group.

Growth has already been achieved following Cordares’ recent €3.8bn merger with the administrator for the building societies ASW, provider of pension and early retirement (Vut) schemes for the sector.

During 2005, Cordares’ assets under management increased by over €3bn to over €20.4bn. One-third of the increase was due to employers rejoining the pension fund from the building industry BPF Bouw, spokesman Franck Erkens indicated.

“Increased supervisory requirements, new pensions legislation and accounting rules were the main causes of their return to the industry-wide scheme,” Cordares explained.

According to Erkens, a considerable number of employers are expected to rejoin in the near future.

“The scaling-up enables us to further developing our services,” Cordares chairman Joep Schouten commented. “As far as the new pensions legislation is concerned, we are well on track, and we are already picking the fruits.”

Cordares is holding firmely to its view that the best organisational set-up for pension funds is a further split in policy and provision.

“This is the easiest way to share, optimise and manage the more complex tasks, requirements, responsibilities and competences,” Schouten said, referring to the new legislation.

“The choice of scheme and policy remain the responsibility of the scheme’s board, being the customer. The administration and asset management are pre-eminently tasks that can be assigned to Cordares.”

Cordares – formerly known as SFB Groep – provides pension management and income insurance for over a million workers.