NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands could fall behind in the pan-European pensions market, an industry executive has warned.

“The Netherlands will fall behind in the future pan-European pensions market, if it only relies on its praised expertise,” said Rob ten Wolde, director of pensions administrator, asset manager and advisor AZL.

“Foreign investors will only come if the tax climate for Dutch and foreign pension funds will be improved, and if the Dutch regulations aren’t too different from the ones abroad,” he explained in the daily Het Financieele Dagblad.

According to the AZL director, who gave his personal view, the Netherlands is struggling with the implementation of the EU directive on occupational pensions. “The proposed adjustment of the national legislation for pensions and savings is insufficient,” he stressed.

“Ireland and Luxembourg are ready, by offering investment pools for foreign pension funds, who can take advantage together from scale and efficiency. They can also profit from virtual investment vehicles, with financially attractive conditions for settlement.”

“Keeping its advanced legislation and regulations will only make Holland attractive for foreign pension schemes because of its professional implementation,” Ten Wolde added.

“This is a potentially fatal complacency. Although Holland has a lot of expertise and experience on pensions, its regulations might be too strict.”

“The government should offer the pension funds the opportunity of exporting the implementation,” he added

“The schemes as a whole won’t disappear, but they will concentrate their investments with foreign asset managers”, he said. “The pension administration will stay in Holland, because of the link to the pensions and labour legislation, which still will apply to the schemes.”

“The new Dutch pensions bill should dictate that the parties of the collective labour agreement, or the entire board of a scheme, take a decision about exporting of activities,” Ten Wolde proposed.

And he doesn’t agree with social affairs minister Aart Jan de Geus, who has doubts about the tenability of the mandatory participation in industry-wide pension funds, due to EU legislation.

“But if this obligation has to disappear, the Dutch government could reclassify the compulsory industry-wide funds as the second part of the first pillar,” he suggested.