NETHERLANDS – The Dutch Association of Company Pension Funds has set up a good pension fund governance initiative.

Ongoing discussions in the Dutch pension funds sector have largely been related to governance issues, feasibility of current systems and probable lack of openness towards its subscribers.

To address these issues, the Dutch Association of Company Pension Funds, or OPF, has set up a set of 24 recommendations to support “Good Pension Fund Governance” in cooperation with several of its members.

Jeroen Steenvoorden, director of the OPF, told IPE that the new recommendations have become a necessity due to the growing demand of sector participants, especially government, trade unions and subscribers, to upgrade the current management and governance of the pension funds.

Since 2003, the sector has received signals that there is growing distrust by several partners related to the overall performance of pension funds.

These issues are not related to purely financial issues, but definitely in an increasing way pointing at management, media and check-and-balances.

To counter this growing mistrust, OPF has put forward 24 recommendations, which were presented in The Hague yesterday. The call for more transparency, as Jeroen Steenvoorden stated, is based on the growing impact of pension funds based on expectations of an ageing society, the market downturn, negative effects of continuing low long-term interest rates and other issues.

According to Steenvoorden, the OPF and its members felt it was more feasible to set up a self-regulating body, based on its recommendations, than to wait for a change in the pension laws.

Self-regulation not only gives the participants more leeway of action, but is also faster.

Specific importance was given to the changing role of the pension fund management/boards, the growing participation of pensioners and overall communication of funds towards the ‘outside world’.