NETHERLANDS – Many of the more than 100 respondents to a consultation on the Dutch financial assessment framework (FTK) have called on state secretary Jetta Klijnsma to ease the strict separation between the proposed new pensions contract under real terms and the nominal contract.
The Actuarial Society (AG), for example, pointed to a need for a "hybrid" contract.
"Some pension funds with a lower indexation target than the prescribed full consumer index cannot operate within the proposed rules," it said.
Lans Bovenberg and Theo Nijman – economics professors at Tilburg University and members of Netspar, the research network for pensions, ageing and retirement – also advocated a hybrid approach, with the view to achieving a "stable" FTK, with options for pension funds without "perverse stimuli".
Meanwhile, Gabriël van de Luitgaarden, head of financial risk and pensions management at electronics firm Philips, who also spoke on behalf of the Unilever, DSM and Akzo Nobel, said: "We would urge the government to include in the updated FTK a hybrid variant that accommodates pension plans that match current practice."
According to pension advisers Miliman Pensioenen, Bergamin Pensioenrechtadvies and Baas Marketingcommunicatie, the proposed FTK update would not lend itself to a stable or sustainable pensions system.
In their opinion, the state secretary is merely trying to change the rules "without having any target or vision".
Theo Kocken, risk expert at Cardano, said: "As Klijnsma's proposals insufficiently connect with the new reality that workers change jobs more often and there is a large and growing number of self-employed, a 'smoothed out' FTK does not stop the discussions about a stable and sustainable pensions system."
Keith Ambachtsheer, director of the Canada-based Rotman Centre for Pensions Management (ICPM), also argued that it was better to take more time in designing a "sound" pensions contract.
However, supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) said it broadly supported the consultation document.
In a letter, Joanna Kellerman, DNB director for pensions, warned that pension funds might remain in a recovery position if they were allowed to even out every financial shock over a 10-year period.
Therefore, pension funds should provide clarity in advance about how they will deal with costs following increasing longevity, she said.
The Financial Markets Authority (AFM) communications watchdog called for more transparency on the effects of various generations of participants' choices, in order to provide them with the "honest story".
The AFM also said it preferred a single pension contract for reasons of simplicity and effective implementation.
"Two pension plans increase the complexity for participants – for example, if they change employers with different contracts, or if they want to compare or add up their pension rights," it said.
Representative organisations for pensioners and the elderly also called for a single FTK, "with clear guidelines for a consistent policy at pension funds, as well as a defined benefit contract".
KNVG, the umbrella organisations for pensioners' associations; CSO, the organisation for the elderly; and ANBO, the large union for the elderly, stressed that pension funds should be given freedom of choice on their pension plans, risk attitude and indexation targets.
State secretary Klijnsma, in the letter accompanying the consultation document, offered to look at a hybrid pensions contract and recommended including the adjustment mechanism for financial shocks for the real contract in the nominal pension plan.