NETHERLANDS - The occupational association of accountants (NBA) has joined the debate about the financial assessment framework (FTK) by warning against changing rules "during the game" and arguing that pension funds should not shy away from benefit cuts if necessary.

In an open letter to pension funds and their participants, the lobbying group suggested that a pension fund with a funding shortfall - that does apply a rights discount - must account for this decision to its active participants.

The accountants warned against opportunism and said the FTK rules were aimed at creating financial buffers for lean times and that they have been based on varying scenarios.

During bad times, the rules should be applied, not adjusted, according to the NBA, which represents 20,000 professionals.

Given pension funds' long-term horizon, communication about future pension benefits should be based on estimates rather than detailed funding levels of the moment, it added.

The NBA said pension funds should provide their participants with more detailed information about how concrete their pension promises are, as well as raised expectations and risks.

Participants also need to know whether their pension arrangements are nominal or real, the NBA stated, adding that this information should be included in the uniform pension statement UPO.

The Pension Federation agreed there is a need for new pension contracts that are clear enough to explain.

However, it questioned the usefulness of an extended UPO.

It said: "Many participants already refrain from reading the statement, as they consider it too comprehensive."