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Dutch Randstad scheme rejects voluntary DC transfer option

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The €1.2bn closed Randstad-pensioenfonds said it would refrain from introducing the option of a voluntary transfer of pension rights to the low-cost defined contribution vehicle (PPI) of ABN-AMRO.

The pension fund of the Dutch temporary employment agency said that legal constraints would restrict the “balanced” transfer conditions it wanted.

As a result, the deal could come at the expense of participants who opted to remain in the closed scheme, it argued.

According to Ronald Ganzeboom, deputy director of the pension fund, the Netherlands’ Pensions Act prescribes that a collective transfer must be carried out against gender-neutral conditions,

The Randstad-pensioenfonds, however, like all other pension funds, had reserved additional assets for female participants because of their higher life expectancy.

“As a transfer would be on a voluntary basis, the board can’t gauge how such a gender-neutral transfer relocation would affect the participants who remained in the pension fund,” he explained.

The board said that “specific groups of participants could lose a significant part of their accrued pension, which would be unacceptable”.

It explained that it was not able to assess which groups of participants would benefit or lose out from a value transfer.

According to the board, supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank lacked the legal option to approve a relocation against more balanced conditions.

The pension fund assumed that a limited number of participants would opt for a voluntary transfer, following a survey in 2015, which suggested that 1,400 of its 16,000 participants – less than 10% – would be interested.

“We estimated that a collective transfer would involve €80m to €100m,” said Ganzeboom.

Of the scheme’s predominantly younger participants and deferred members, 3,500 are still employed by the agency. Approximately 650 participants are pensioners.

The pension fund said it would continue with business as usual, while keeping an eye open for transfer options.

Ganzeboom indicated that the scheme didn’t have a concrete alternative in mind at the moment.

At March-end, the scheme’s funding stood at almost 98%.

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