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DNB director calls on Dutch schemes to consult participants on ESG

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Joanne Kellermann, outgoing director at Dutch regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), has said pension funds should ask participants to get more involved in the ethical aspects of their schemes’ investment decisions.

Speaking at the DNB’s annual congress for pension funds last week, Kellermann highlighted the impact of schemes’ investment policies on popular opinion.

“By investing in companies, pension funds’ participants indirectly become co-owners of these firms, and this comes with both social and moral consequences,” she said.

“Is a pension fund, for example, opting to invest in a multinational company that is moving many jobs to low-wages countries? Or is it deliberately investing in local companies intending to stay in the Netherlands and create jobs through innovation?”

She added: “It also matters whether you choose investments in countries with dodgy governments, or instead opt for companies that are developing alternative energy sources.” 

Kellermann said she regretted the fact that Dutch pension funds rarely consult participants on sustainable investments; she said just over 20% of the larger schemes had asked participants for their opinions on environmental, social or governance issues.

However, by involving participants in their investment decisions, she said, pension funds can strengthen their place in society and foster participants’ support for their policies.

Kellermann has served as supervisory director of pensions at the DNB since 2007.

She will be succeeded by Frank Alderson on 1 November.

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