NETHERLANDS - Henk Kamp, the Dutch minister of social affairs and labour, has rubbished contentions made by current affairs show Zembla, which claimed pension funds have mismanaged investments to the point of squandering some €145bn.
Zembla's claims were based on an analysis the programme commissioned from Dutch consultant Bureau Bosch.
Kamp said: "The analysis presented by Zembla is based on numerous assumptions. From responses published since the show aired, it becomes clear just how complicated such an analysis actually is and to what extent the findings depend on the assumptions made."
In the days following the Zembla programme, IPE's sister publication IPNederland published various industry comments, including a response by Jean Frijns, former CIO of civil servant fund ABP, who called Bosch's calculations "highly dubious" and that the consultant had applied the wrong benchmark.
The two largest Dutch schemes - ABP and PFZW - also dismissed suggestions that underperformance by the pension sector had led to combined losses of €145bn over the last 20 years.
IPNederland asked two consultants, Guus Boender of Ortec and Theo Kocken of Cardano, to verify Bureau Bosch's numbers regarding a presumed premium shortfall, which allegedly cost the pensions system some €799bn. Both consultants independently reached the same conclusion - that Bosch's numbers were off by some €650bn.
Kamp said: "These responses show that the actual contributions paid in the 2000-09 time period are much higher than the amount Zembla assumes and that pension fund allocation to equities has been far lower than the show has assumed.
"Further, the statement that pension fund performance has lagged other investors is groundless. Responses to the show point to the fact Zembla's choice of the benchmarks used to judge pension fund performance is arbitrary."
Kamp also makes short work of the claim, based on Bosch's analysis, that pension schemes should have allocated more to fixed income over the last 20 years.
Referring to calculations in the government-commissioned Goudswaard report, he said: "These show that a fixed asset mix, left unchanged since the 1980s and consisting of mostly fixed income, would in fact have resulted in total pension assets being some 25% less than is actually the case," he said.
"As an aside, I gladly leave it up to pension schemes to account for their investment choices themselves."