Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, has announced that the country’s larger pension funds are to be categorised as ‘organisations of public interest’.
In a letter to Parliament, Dijsselbloem said these organisations – also known as OOB – must now comply with stricter accounting rules.
Before hiring an accountant to check an annual account, for example, OOB must now first consult the Financial Markets Authority, according to the letter.
The audit certificate of an OOB also will also require an additional quality approval, given by an independent accountant as a ‘quality assessor’, Dijsselbloem said.
The finance minister argued that pension funds ought to be considered OOB because “non-listed banks and insurers already have such a designation”.
He said pension funds were “comparable” with other financial institutions because they valued their assets in similar ways, while schemes’ means of discounting their liabilities have “similarities” with how insurers establish their financial obligations.
He added that, at several Dutch pension funds, accountants already provided the extensive certificates required for an OOB.
Dijsselbloem also pointed out that task-focused quality assessment on a voluntary basis was already the norm at some pension funds and concluded that schemes’ boards and accountants had “obviously deemed these additional guarantees as appropriate”.
He recommended that OOB status apply to pension funds with at least €4bn in assets.
Dijsselbloem also confirmed that the managers of power, water and gas grids, as well as housing corporations, would now be designated as organisations of public interest.