Dutch pensions sector resists plans for increased supervisory transparency
The Dutch pensions sector is resisting proposals to publish details about individual organisations unearthed during supervisory surveys.
Responding to a consultation on legal proposals aimed at increasing transparency in financial markets, the Dutch Pensions Federation, asset managers and insurers argued the move could be counterproductive.
The proposed legislation would allow De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and AFM to mention the names of individual organisations when publishing results of surveys comparing performance.
Those surveyed would be notified of the release of such information at least five days in advance, allowing the affected organisation to lodge an appeal.
DNB regularly conducts surveys, for example examining IT, outsourcing of asset management and board quality, whereas AFM has looked into investment costs and the accuracy of the uniform pensions statement (UPO).
The regulators have also jointly surveyed pension funds’ communication policy.
The proposed legislation would also allow the regulators to publicly respond to comments about supervision.
Currently, they can only confirm or deny, but are barred from publishing other confidential information.
The proposed transparency is also meant to encourage financial organisations to improve their performance and to help consumers reach decisions.
In a statement for IPE’s sister publication Pensioen Pro, a spokesman for the Pensions Federation said that the legislation could make pension funds reluctant in sharing information.
“The proposals only seem to focus on transparency, but lack the arguments why they would improve supervision,” he said.
In its response, the industry organisation noted that the consultation largely seemed to target commercial players, and that it lacked concrete text proposals for pension funds.
The Dutch Fund and Asset Management Association (Dufas) said it expected the legislation to result in a “fear culture”.
“Naming an individual company should, because of its large impact, be a measure of last resort ” it argued.
The Association of Insurers (VvV) emphasised that theme surveys are meant to provide insight for the supervisor and that they should not be used for the purpose of enforcement.
Eumedion, the Dutch corporate governance and sustainability forum for institutional investors, suggested that the watchdogs publish examples of best practice rather than exposing companies for unfavourable practices.
By contrast, the securities owners association (VEB) said it welcomed the proposals, arguing that transparency would have a preventative effect and would also force financial companies to quickly take measures for improvement.
It added that reports of company-specific surveys contain “very relevant” information for investors and other financial consumers.