NETHERLANS - Dutch pension funds have outperformed their benchmarks over the 10 years between 2000 and 2010 despite two financial crises, according to research by the pensions regulator DNB.

Over the period, pension funds returned 4.8% on average against the benchmarks' 4.6%, the DNB said.

Social affairs and labour minister Henk Kamp commissioned the study at the request of parliament.

The study had been prompted in part by the findings of a previous study - as reported by pensions expert and former ABP CIO Jean Frijns - concluding that pension funds had lost more than €20bn in 2008 due to the so-called 'implementation shortfall'.

In a letter to parliament, Kamp wrote: "The new study adds nuance to the picture emerging from the Frijns report." 

The new DNB study largely confirms the findings of the Frijns committee - pension funds did indeed lose some €20bn as a result of the way they implemented their investment strategies.

However, despite the dotcom crisis earlier in the decade and the credit crisis of 2008, Dutch schemes managed to earn a positive return of €9.7bn over the entire 10-year period, according to the regulator.

Although the findings were generally positive, the DNB acknowledged it did not fully know which benchmarks Dutch pension funds applied.

It also conceded that whether the outperformance was the result of investment skill or the taking on more risk than the benchmark was unclear.