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Dutch watchdog bans professional trustee from pensions sector

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Joanne de Graaff, a professional pension fund trustee, has been forced to resign from all posts in the Dutch pensions sector after failing a ‘reliability check’ – or betrouwbaarheidsformulier – by regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). 

The DNB’s 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 said she failed the check due to a “technicality”.

She said 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 suggesting any wrongdoing.

“After the Financial Markets Authority communications watchdog alerted me about this omission, I adjusted my CV,” De Graaff said.

“However, it did not cross my mind to submit a new ‘reliability’ form, which led the DNB to conclude I was insufficiently reliable.”

De Graaff – who has 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 AFM.

De Graaff started her pensions career as director of Perfetti, the pension fund of confectioner Van Melle, and continued as chair at Zoetwaren and Verf, the pension fund for the paint and ink industry, which has merged with the €19.3bn PGB.

In 2011, she started her own business, HandsonPension, focusing on interim-management for pension funds.

Earlier this week, the DNB announced that, over the last four years, more than 50 applicants had failed reliability checks for various positions at Dutch pension funds.

These rulings included the case of Jan van Walsem, who in July 2014 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”.

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

The DNB was unavailable for a comment.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Would DNB pass a reality check? Or even a sanity check? The Stanford Prison Experiment in a real life case study. Professor Philip Zimbardo, please come and have a look....

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