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IPE special report May 2018

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MN scales back 'over-ambitious' innovation project, writes off €15m

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MN, the asset manager for Dutch metal industry pension schemes PMT and PME, has written off €15m of a €70m innovation project, which has largely failed to deliver.

In an interview with IPE’s sister publication Pensioen Pro, it indicated that the project – known as MN 3.0 – was “over-ambitious” and has been drastically scaled back.

MN 3.0 was meant to reduce costs by 30% by 2018 and decrease the number of administrative errors caused by manual handling at the €114bn asset manager.

The project – started in 2014 – was already temporarily halted last year as its planned core IT system, including the administration for pension rights and a database for pension plans, “didn’t inspire confidence” for the future, the group said.

Since then plans have been rationalised, prioritising urgent adjustments as well as cost-reducing elements, according to MN.

It said that the dedicated project organisation, comprising 100 MN staff and 75 external specialists, had been abolished, and that the slimmed down project was to continue as “pensions innovation”.

The provider – which also serves the sector scheme for the merchant navy – argued that the MN 3.0 team had tried too many things at once and hadn’t worked efficiently.

A €20m investment during the past three years delivered several new systems, such as an automatic link with the citizens register of local councils, a new employer portal, and an update of existing files.

MN already reported a €13.8m loss over 2015, which it largely attributed to MN 3.0.

It made clear that its pension fund clients would have to foot the bill with, for example, PMT having to pay an additional €16 and €17 per participant over 2016 and 2017, respectively, on top of regular implementation costs of €81.50.

MN’s options were renewing the IT core or investing in an entirely new system, the provider said.

It added that it would prioritise the planning for a new employer portal and new hardware.

At the start of MN 3.0, the entire costs for the five-year project had been estimated at €70m.

MN expected to shed 220 jobs as a result of the project. The number of staff has been reduced by 120, equating to almost 10% of the initial number.

A spokesman for MN said it could still make up for the delay.

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