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Dutch pensions regulator calls for more clarity on ownership rights

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De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch financial regulator, has said clear ownership rights, a balanced sharing of risks, and more realistic participant expectations about future pension benefits must be addressed in the Netherlands’ new pensions system.

Speaking at the annual congress of FD Pension Pro IPE in Amsterdam, Joanne Kellermann, the DNB’s director of supervision, said these building blocks would be essential for building a sustainable system.

According to Kellermann, participants need to regain trust in the system, and it is therefore vital to provide them with a realistic picture of their future pension, based on clear communication of an “explicable” concept.

“We must also find solutions for the current elements of rights redistribution within the system,” she said, noting that structural redistribution was “bad for social support”.

In the opinion of the DNB director, the new pensions system must also be efficient, in order to contribute to the economy through stable contributions and benefits.

She added that a certain level of collective approach remained important to keep costs down.

Theodor Kockelkoren, who sits on the executive board of the Financial Markets Authority (AFM), added: “Trust is the key word.”

He observed that the “call for a defined benefit guarantee” was dying down, and that participants must therefore be provided with clarity in order to arrive at more realistic expectations.

In his opinion, the current uniform pensions statement (UPO) is not enough.

Kockelkoren also argued that uncertainties over future returns on investments must be better explained.

“Returns could, due to costs not yet factored in, turn out to be lower than we have told participants so far,” he said.

He said cost efficiency should get more attention because of its importance for the ultimate level of pension benefits.

He also asked that the ongoing debate over pensions reform should be conducted with open minds rather than being “based on dogmas”.

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