Most company pension funds in the Netherlands have doubts about their sustainability and are considering changing providers or pension arrangements, according to a survey commissioned by insurer Centraal Beheer (CB).
The survey of 30 board members and 36 sponsors found that 93% of the pension funds were thinking of switching to another provider, such as the new general pension fund (APF) or an insurer, or joining a low-cost defined contribution vehicle (PPI).
Company schemes are also looking to join a sector scheme or merge with another company pension fund, according to CB.
The chief reasons for the possible changes were concerns over board continuity due to increased expertise requirements for trustees, as well as lowering costs by increasing scale.
CB said 40% of respondents expected to change their pension arrangements, such as replacing their average salary plans with defined contribution (DC) or collective DC schemes.
It said more than two-thirds of respondents were still weighing their options, and that 60% were considering switching to an APF, by establishing one themselves or joining one in the market.
DNB, the Dutch regulator, is assessing six applications for APF licences, most of which have been submitted by insurers, including CB, a subsidiary of Achmea Group.
CB also found that 58% of the companies surveyed supported measures to increase the sustainability of their pensions, and that 16% had an APF in mind as an alternative.
It revealed that sponsors were concerned about “losing their say and identity”, as well as “distance” from their participants as a consequence of changing pension plans.
The future Centraal Beheer APF is to operate as an independent foundation.
It will employ CB for distribution and the €100bn Achmea IM for asset management, using Achmea’s new online platform for administration.
According to DNB statistics, 236 of the remaining 320 pension funds at the end of last year were company schemes.
Recently, the regulator indicated that the total number of pension funds was to fall to approximately 265, as dozens are now in the process of liquidation.