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Dutch schemes cite trustee shortage as top challenge, survey shows

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Maintaining board security has been the greatest challenge for beleaguered Dutch pension funds forced to consider the possibility of winding up, according to a study by pensions consultancy Montae.

The second-greatest challenge, according to a survey of nearly 70 board members, is the limited amount of time trustees have to meet their responsibilities.

Third on the list was cost-cutting.

Margriet Adema, who covers governance at Montae, said the results were remarkable.

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“We thought savings would have been higher on the list, but pension funds are chiefly worried about a looming lack of qualified board members within just a couple of years,” she said.

The ongoing process of consolidation has been another reason Dutch schemes have been forced to reconsider their future, with many trustees unwilling to wait until other schemes approach them with merger proposals.

Adema also highlighted that 95% of the survey’s respondents had had to re-examine their future in some capacity.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean they are considering liquidation,” she said. “Half of the surveyed schemes still expect to be in existence over the coming decade.”

Meanwhile, Montae found that nearly 40% of the schemes now considering their future had already “reached conclusions”, or started the process of transition or liquidation.

Further, approximately 90% of the pension funds surveyed are weighing the so-called ‘general pension fund’, or APF, although some respondents are sceptical of APFs launched by commercial players such as insurers.

“Although they value insurers’ expertise,” Adema said, “they also fear service provision will become more expensive.

“Therefore, all APFs should properly explain to their participants to which parties they outsource their pensions administration and asset management, and why.”

According to Montae, the 68 participating trustees represented a “reasonable” cross section of the Dutch pensions sector, including large and small schemes, as well as company, occupational and industry-wide schemes.

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