NETHERLANDS - Social affairs' minister Piet Hein Donner wants to undo the present ban which prevents pensions providers from linking their financial products to the mandatory industry-wide pension funds.

At present, asset management houses APG and PGGM and the large industry-wide pension funds they work for and are owned by, ABP and PFZW, have to go to great lengths to avoid indicating their connection. Pensions regulator DNB has even fined ABP and PFZW for violating the rules.

But the minister has suggested in a letter to parliament that the change is necessary to match the increased importance of pensions communications, he believes it would allow participants to assess the adequacy of their pension provision, as well as raise their pension consciousness.

Insurers, in particular, have pushed for enforcement of the ban because they consider pension funds promoting their subsidiaries as unfair competition.

But the fact that a provider is not allowed to mention the industry-wide scheme as its client in business contacts can hamper conducting business, Donner has argued.

He also indicated the ban is difficult to enforce, as the media often links the pensions providers and the industry-wide schemes anyway.

In his opinion, the source of the problem is pension funds have increasingly contracted out their pension schemes to external providers.

"During the introduction of the rules in the legislation for industry-wide schemes, a ban on naming the industry-wide scheme was not been meant in this specific situation," claimed Donner.

He has now announced he will introduce legislation based on his own views, as a consultation between pension funds' lobbying organisations, representatives of pension providers as well as insurers has not lead to an agreement about the conditions.

The minister stressed that he still wants keep a level-playing field towards insurers, and also wants to prevent abuse of a pension fund's name, and limit access to a scheme's participants.

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