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Achmea back in profit after ditching industry schemes

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Achmea’s decision to abolish its service provision to the Netherlands’ mandatory industry-wide pension funds contributed to its first profit from pensions management in a decade.

The Dutch bancassurer’s annual figures for 2017 showed that its newly established ‘Old Age Provisions’ (Oudedagsvoorzieningen) business unit – which also includes Achmea Investment Management and Achmea Bank – improved its operational result to a €12m profit, following a loss of €18m the previous year.

Since the establishment of Syntrus Achmea Pensioenbeheer in 2008, this part of the business had incurred annual losses varying from €10m to €40m, in particular relating to its services to mandatory sector schemes.

Achmea attributed the improved result to all parts of Oudedagsvoorzieningen, adding that Achmea Bank had driven down its costs by €20m to €266m.

Achmea IM saw its assets under management increase from €116bn to €120bn, in part as a result of new pension fund clients for its general pension fund, Centraal Beheer APF.

With AuM of €1.1bn, the general pension fund is now the third biggest in the Dutch market.

Achmea said it had launched new user portals for both employers and workers for the Centraal Beheer APF as well as for the company pension funds.

In 2016, Achmea’s pensions arm reported a loss of €22m. At the end of that year the company announced that it would cease its services to mandatory industry-wide pension funds within two years, as its IT systems could no longer cope with the multitude of pension arrangements.

In July last year Wonen, the scheme for the Netherlands’ furnishing industry, was the last of Achmea’s 22 sector clients to confirm its new pension arrangements.

The group later removed the ‘Syntrus’ brand from its business.

During the presentation of Achmea’s first half figures in August last year, chairman Willem van Duin predicted that pensions management would deliver a profit soon as a result of the decision.

It said it would complete the service provision to mandatory sector schemes during the first six months of 2018, by guiding them to other providers under the old name of Syntrus Achmea Pensioenbeheer, which is to disappear subsequently.

For 2017, Achmea improved its overall operational result from a loss of €319m to a €349m profit, largely as a result of contributions from its divisions for damage and income insurance as well as pensions and life insurance.

As of 1 January, Achmea brought its services to company pension funds, occupational schemes, non-mandatory pension funds as well as the Centraal Beheer APF under the new umbrella of Achmea Pensioenservices. Within Oudedagsvoorzieningen, Achmea Pensioenservices aimed to grow through “innovative digital service provision”.

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