Dutch pension funds’ portfolios lost a combined value of €46bn as a result of the equity market downturn during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).

Its statistics showed that pension assets totalled €1.328trn at the end of December, while liabilities increased by €40bn to almost €1.286trn.

As a consequence of the quarterly losses, pension funds’ average funding level dropped by 7 percentage points to 103.3%, DNB said.

However, schemes’ “policy funding” – their average coverage ratio during the past 12 months, and the main criterion for pension cuts and indexation – fell by 0.6 percentage points to an average 108.4%.

Although this exceeded the minimum required level of 104.3%, most members had pension claims with a fund that was significantly underfunded, the regulator stated.

At the end of 2018, the pension funds of 63% of active participants (3.5m) and 50% of deferred members (4.9m) had a funding shortfall.

At the same time, 59% of all pensioners (2m) were dependent on a scheme with an insufficient coverage ratio.

In most cases, funding must have improved to 104.3% by the end of 2020 to prevent rights cuts in the following year.

Some pension funds, including the large metal schemes PMT and PME, however, must have sufficient funding at the end of 2019, as their five-year recovery plan started earlier as a result of underfunding.

At the end of December, the policy coverage of PMT and PME stood at 102.3% and 101.3%, respectively.