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Dutch pension funds may be 'forced' to draw on foreign board expertise

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Dutch pension funds may be forced to call on foreign board expertise as they face hundreds of potential board vacancies over the next 2-3 years, experts have warned. 

During a recent seminar on governance organised by asset manager F&C, several experts on a discussion panel responded positively to a suggestion from the audience that Dutch schemes should consider drawing on foreign board expertise.

The discussion followed the prediction by Maas Simon, a partner at pension board consultancy Xudoo, that increased legal demands with respect to board-member expertise and time constraints – as well as the ageing of serving board members – would lead to 500-600 vacancies over the next few years.

Mike van Engelen, a partner at pensions adviser Montae, said: “Foreign expertise is worth considering, as many themes within the international pensions sector are similar.”

However, he argued that cultural differences would first need to be overcome.

His view was echood by Casper van Ewijk, director at Netspar, the network for pension researchers and professionals, who suggested new people could provide a fresh look at old issues.

Xander den Uyl, former vice-chairman of the €300bn civil service scheme ABP, pointed out that international expertise was already being used for investment decisions, while Tim Kamphorst, a headhunter and partner at The Executive Network, suggested that foreign experts might be deployed in asset management.

“But it is unlikely that they can contribute in areas such as pension arrangements and specific Dutch legislation, including the financial assessment framework FTK,” he told IPE.

However, a significant majority of the attending pensions professionals rejected the possibility of recruting top board members abroad.

Jan-Jaap Dahmeijer, superviser at pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank, questioned whether Dutch schemes were putting sufficient effort into finding independent and capable board members.

“Currently, women are hardly represented on the boards of pension funds,” he added.

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