NETHERLANDS - The DNB, the Dutch regulator, has alleged that ABP and PGGM, the two largest Dutch pension funds, have disregarded the rules regarding the marketing of ‘levensloop’, or life course schemes.

The criticism relates to the DNB’s interpretation of the BPF law, which governs the management of industry-wide pension funds. The law says that a pension fund is only allowed to give information regarding its pension arrangements, and not attempt to sell other products.

Both PGGM and ABP have established wholly-owned insurance subsidiaries that offer life course arrangements, and have advised their members of this. Other Dutch insurers who are also targeting the levensloop market have attacked this as giving them an unfair advantage.

A PGGM spokesperson told IPE that its social partners are interested in retaining a link between members’ pension and life course arrangements, and that as a pension fund, it sees its task as being to inform and support its members in making the right choices.

Both ABP and PGGM claim that there is a conflict between the VPL law -- which regulates pre-pension and life course schemes -- and the BPF law, because while the VPL law says that pension funds should be able to provide pre-pension and levensloop schemes, the DNB’s interpretation of BPF law is that pension funds should limit their communications to members solely to pension-related issues.

ABP and PGGM add that the DNB’s standpoint restricts their freedom to communicate with members and that this runs counter to a growing demand for transparency and corporate governance.

ABP spokesman Hans ten Brinke said that the DNB is concentrating too much on the BPF law, and he indicated that ABP would file a protest against the DNB’s interpretation.

However, DNB’s position is that a strict interpretation is necessary to ensure transparency in the sector.

Last month the DNB warned the funds that it was reviewing the possibility of fining them because of a contravention of BPF regulations.

Ten Brinke claims that this position could have negative repercussions for ABP’s active involvement in other issues, such as shareholder meetings.