NETHERLANDS - The Dutch industry-wide scheme SPF Beheer is offering support services to smaller pension funds which prefer to stay independent.

The fund, which implements the pension schemes for the large Dutch railways fund SPF and the public transport fund SPOV, said in a statement it is “offering advice and a continuity warranty, based on a partnership relation”.

“We are offering another way than the commercial route of housing smaller schemes with large executors,” it added. Apart from practical advice and second opinions, SPF is prepared to help smaller schemes with back-up and temporarily management assistance.

According to SPF, the accent of advice will be likely on currents files, e.g. the International Financial Reporting Standards, the new financial assessment framework FTK, communication, specialised asset management issues and the new ‘levensloop’, or life course scheme.

“An survey among pension funds has shown a need for ‘brotherly’ services,” explained pension director Ernest Nooij of SPF. He estimates that two-thirds of the Dutch pension funds might be potential partners.

At present SPF Beheer is already supporting several schemes at asset management, private equity management and the establishing of investment funds for the levensloop.

SPF Beheer has 170 staff, of whom 69 are being employed in its pensions and actuary arm, and 47 at its asset management department.

The railways scheme SPF is among the ten largest schemes in the Netherlands. It has €10bn in assets under management.

The average returns on investments over the past 10 years of the SPF are 8.8%. Its coverage ratio is 164% - based on the fixed interest rate of 4% - one of the highest within the Dutch pensions industry.

The public transport scheme SPOV, has €1.9bn in assets under management. Its funding ratio is 133%.