The general pension fund (algemeen pensioenfonds or APF), a new pensions vehicle introduced in the Netherland in mid-2016, has quickly developed into an important player in the consolidation process of the country’s pensions sector, Wouter Koolmees, the minister for social affairs, has said.

In a letter to parliament, he said the consolidation vehicle had attracted most of the assets from pension funds that decided to stop operating.

Since the introduction of the APF, combined assets managed by the country’s six vehicles had increased to €13.5bn at the end of 2018, Koolmees said.

Despite this rapid increase in combined assets, the amount represented no more than 1% of the Dutch entire pensions assets.

In the same period, industry-wide pension funds and insurers attracted €7.2bn and €3.6bn of pension assets, respectively, whereas €2.5bn went to a cross-border vehicle.

According to the minister, between 2014 and 2018, 133 pension funds ceased to exist – 114 of them were company schemes.

In this timeframe, 17 industry-wide pension funds, one occupational scheme and one APF also stopped operating.

Koolmees added that the consolidation process had boosted the number of participants and pensioners at sector schemes by 115,000. APF’s and insurers gained 79,000 and 72,000 members, respectively.

The combined number of participants and pensioners of APFs stood at 108,000 at the end of 2018. This equated to 0.6% of the total for the Netherlands, said the minister.

The same percentage went for the combined pension contributions of €194m received by the consolidation vehicles.

At the end of 2019, the number of active pension funds in the Netherlands had dropped to 187. In addition, almost 50 schemes were in liquidation.

VNU, Goudse Haven, Ford Nederland and Nedlloyd Pensioenfonds have been a few of those schemes that since the beginning of the year have either transferred their pensions accrual to pension insurers or an APF, and will be liquidating subsequently.