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Asset management costs at Dutch schemes on the rise

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Asset management costs at the largest Dutch pension funds have risen for the first time since 2014, according to LCP Netherlands.

The consultancy, which looked at the annual reports of 10 large schemes with combined assets of €846bn at 2017-end, said that asset management costs had increased by 2 basis points to 0.52% on average last year relative to 2016.

In currency terms, costs rose by €485m to €4,268m.

LCP said the pension funds attributed the increase to a re-allocation to more expensive asset classes, such as infrastructure and residential mortages, and higher performances fees for asset managers.

Transaction costs, which had also remained stable since 2014, rose last year from 0.08% to 0.11% of invested assets, with pension funds citing an increased insight into costs, according to the pensions adviser.

It found that, in contrast, administration costs per participant had dropped by nearly 7%, from €89 to €83 on average. LCP said the decrease was in part due to cost reductions agreed between the pension funds and their respective providers.

LCP said that it could not establish whether higher asset management costs had led to higher returns or the other way round.

Comparing returns and costs for the period 2012-2016 with 2012-2017, it found that returns had dropped while, at six schemes, investment costs had increased.

At four pension funds costs had dropped, but proportionally less than returns had decreased, said the consultancy. It declined to link the schemes to their returns and cost data.

LCP looked into the annual reports of the civil service scheme ABP, healthcare pension fund PFZW, the metal schemes PMT and PME, road transport pension fund Vervoer, multi-sector scheme PGB and railways pension fund SPF.

It also examined the company schemes of telecoms firm KPN, electronics giant Philips and Rabobank.

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