NETHERLANDS - Dutch entrepreneur Richard Cok is trying to get a foothold on the Dutch market for collective defined contribution (DC) schemes through a Maltese trust under the EU's Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive.

He told IPE he intends to compete with banks and insurers that will soon launch DC vehicles under the new Dutch Premium Pension Institution (PPI).

His company, Worldwide Pensions, wants to help small and medium-sized Dutch companies, as well as Dutch multinationals, to set up DC schemes based on the trust, which he said complied fully with IORP requirements.

Cok is promoting his product as 'MKB-Pensioenfonds', but he stressed that his initiative was fully separate from MKB Nederland, the lobbying organisation for SMEs.

Because establishing a Maltese trust is significantly cheaper than starting a company pension fund in the Netherlands, a trust as pension vehicle can operate much more cheaply than insurers, Cok said.

He added: "Costs can further be reduced because employers can run the pension administration themselves through an online platform, as well as due to collective contracts with independent Dutch asset managers."

Cok predicts insurers launching a PPI will fail to develop new investment products and that they will invest the paid-in pension contributions in their own expensive investment funds.

Having completed his platform for online administration, he said he was now conducting final negotiations with two banks, which will act as a custodian for the premiums paid in by employer and workers.

"Meanwhile, we are discussing setting up the necessary structures with five employers, such as establishing a board that can also include a representative of Worldwide Pensions as a trustee."

Cok said the Maltese supervisor MFSA had checked whether the trust complied with EU legislation, and that an independent auditor had reported to the MFSA.

"And, of course, we need to comply with Dutch fiscal and social legislation," he added.

Jacqueline Lommen, senior consultant for European pensions at Aon Hewitt, said: "A Maltese pension trust is allowed to operate as a pension fund under the European Pension Directive and supervised in accordance with the Budapest protocol of the European Insurance Occupational Pensions Authority."

According to Lommen, the MFSA has the final responsibility for granting the cross-border licence, as well as the overall supervision of the trust, while the DNB checks whether the pension scheme complies with Dutch legislation.

She added that, as a former British colony, Malta's pension system is similar to the system in the UK, and that the MFSA is a full member of EIOPA and has a good reputation.

However, she stressed that Cok's Maltese license was valid only if he has notified the Dutch regulator of services offered in the Netherlands, and if the Malta-based trust offers a pension scheme that fully complies with Dutch pension legislation.

Neither the DNB nor the MFSA were available for comment.