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Dutch pensions regulator clarifies reasons for 'reliability-check' failures

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The Dutch pensions regulator, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), has explained that it rejects candidates for positions on pension funds’ boards only when those candidates omit “important” information on their CVs. 

The DNB, in a Q&A on its so-called ‘reliability check’ for trustees, said merely forgetting to provide information would not, in and of itself, trigger a rejection.

It also stressed that it carefully considered the content and seriousness of any CV omission, as well as its connection with the sought-after position, although it added that the “attitude, explanation and response” of the person in question could also affect its final judgment.

Last month, the supervisor ordered Joanne de Graaff, a professional pension fund trustee, to resign after she failed its reliability check over what she dismissed as a “technicality”.

De Graaff claims she mistakenly failed to mention in her CV that she had been a board member of the Pensioen Coöperatie – an initiative to provide pension funds the benefits of scale through cooperation – which went bust in 2009.

Although she conceded this had been a “stupid mistake”, she stressed that there had been no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The reliability test was conducted during her reappointment as a member of the supervisory board at SPT, the €1.6bn occupational pension fund for dentists and dental specialists.

De Graaff – who also served as a board member on Zoetwaren, the €1.8bn pension fund for confectioners – said she felt “hurt” by the regulator’s decision, and questioned whether it had anything to do with her being “outspoken” about supervision, particularly as applied by the communications watchdog AFM.

Last year, she described mandatory texts in the uniform pension statement (UPO), as prescribed by the AFM, as “backward”.

Over the last four years, more than 50 applicants have failed reliability checks for various positions at Dutch pension funds, according to the DNB’s own figures, released in January.

These rulings included the case of Jan van Walsem, who claimed the watchdog forced him to step down as chairman of the €5bn pension fund for painters and decorators (Schilders) for having “the wrong attitude”.

According to Van Walsem, he had not been “sufficiently obliging” with respect to the regulator’s recommendations.

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