NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Foundation of Company Pension Funds, or OPF, has set out to become a service organisation for practical support of smaller company schemes, chairman Han Thoman said.

In its new role, the OPF will support boards, and exchange best practice, in regard to all recent changes and developments within the pensions industry, Thoman explained during the OPF’s annual congress.

He also announced a survey into a ‘national company pension fund’, that would be formed by bringing together several schemes, albeit with the own identities. “An own independent scheme, will offer the OPF board more flexibility than a cooperation with commercial players”, he stressed.

“We still need quite a leap forward in tackling ignorance on pensions,” said Arthur Docters van Leeuwen, the chairman of the regulator Authority Financial Markets, or AFM.

The AFM will supervise the pensions communication and transparency as of 2006. “We won’t look into the finances of pension funds, that’s up to the pensions regulator DNB and the social partners,” Docters van Leeuwen made clear. “But we will base our assessment of the communication on the DNB’s view."

“We will check the communication - to members, deferred and surviving relatives - on correctness, timeliness and clarity, he added. The chairman distinguished three levels of information: basic information in the public domain, information about the pension fund and specific information at individual level on life events.

“Initially, the AFM will try to activate the responsibility of the market players”, Docters van Leeuwen explained. “But we won’t tolerate non-compliance with the law”.

“Because of the importance of a pension as a condition of employment, an equal employers’ commitment is essential for a collective pension as a second pillar”, Social Affairs minister Aart Jan de Geus told the audience.

Referring to the issues of governance and participation – currently under discussion within the pensions industry – the minister stressed the importance of members’ participation. “As far as I am concerned, there is no going back on this.”