NETHERLANDS – The Dutch pension associations VB and OPF are to assess the current status of pension fund governance and present a joint plan of action to the Stichting van de Arbeid, or Labour Foundation.

Speaking at the VB’s annual meeting, former VB chairman Ton Wennekus said that the association’s assessment of pension fund governance is very positive, with the interaction between the parties involved within the VB very good and effective.

But he said overall pension awareness is way below necessary levels. And governance implementation was still constrained due to persistent views within funds that there are no real obvious threats.

He also reiterated that governance is still a long way from set standards – “all can still be done better”. Most pressure to implement governance was still coming from society, which is increasingly disapproving of pension fund governance.

Peter de Koning, chairman of the VB’s working group on governance, said schemes in the Netherlands are being confronted by increased demands of third parties to implement governance.

But he said pension funds however have been very slow to put this into action, which partly is based on the fact that pension funds are mostly foundations, which are inherently not real democratic institutions.

“We should have instigated pension fund governance years ago,” de Koning stated. “It needs to be speeded up, otherwise the sector will be forced by politicians to put it into action. Funds have not anymore playing time or room for discussion.”

He said self-regulation was better than being confronted by unwanted facts by third parties. He still sees a potential for a third management layer with the pension fund. Additionally, it should be possible to put into action the increased accountability of current boards.