Consolidation of the Netherlands’ pension funds is to continue, according to the country’s regulator, with the number of schemes forecast to drop to just over 200.
De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) said that, of the current 268 pension funds, 45 have indicated that they intended to liquidate.
The total number of Dutch pension funds dropped from more than 1,000 in 1997 to 713 in 2007.
Company pension funds accounted for most of the decline, DNB said, with numbers falling from 605 to 192 in the past 10 years – a 70% drop.
In the same period, the number of industry-wide pension funds fell 40%, from 96 to 59.
The DNB figures showed that most consolidation has involved pension rights transferring to insurers or industry-wide schemes.
However, since 1 July 2016, more than €4bn of pension assets has been transferred to the new general pension funds (APF). APFs were introduced on 1 January 2016. Almost the entire amount has being placed in single-client compartments.
In addition, since 1 July 2016 more than €2.4bn of pension rights was placed in a cross-border vehicle based outside of the Netherlands.
According to DNB, this involved a limited number of multi-nationals. Companies such as Aon Hewitt have combined their pension arrangements in several EU member states into a single company scheme.
The regulator said €13.3bn was transferred out of liquidating or merging schemes last year. with more than €3.3bn going to sector schemes and €515m to company pension funds.
Premium pension institutions (PPI) – a low-cost defined contribution vehicle – gained €36m from the consolidation process.
The watchdog said that a pension fund’s decision to liquidate or merge was often triggered by a combination of developments, such as increasing costs of pensions provision, legal demands, difficulties finding suitable board members, and a pension fund’s financial position or demography.
Corporate mergers and liquidations, as well as changes to pension arrangements, also played a role, DNB said.
DNB said it expected that every pension fund considered its long-term viability and also had a strategy for its future.
It underlined the importance of a vision for the future by citing the lack of clarity about the sector’s future pending a review of the entire Dutch pensions system.
For 2017, DNB said it had identified 22 pension funds as being “extra vulnerable” and that it had requested these schemes to draw up a plan for their future.