NETHERLANDS - International financial service group Fortis' Dutch governance arm wants to educate pension fund trustees to take a more hands-on governing approach, the firm said today.

According to Fortis "the principles of good governance have come into the slipstream of governance codes" and pension funds need to weigh the performance of their governance model.

Mik Breek, Fortis' Governance & Advisory director who leads the new operation, told IPE that the firm has developed a new method to help pension fund trustees, who often govern the pension fund next to their own day-job, realise what needs to be improved in their governance of the fund.

"The supervisors find it important that trustees improve the governance themselves and don't look at actuaries or other contracted executants when it comes to governing responsibility," Breek said - Fortis wants to help them take the direct responsibility.

This is also important under the growing influence of the Dutch Corporate Governance Code  (‘Tabaksblat Code'), according to the firm.

With an anonymous questionnaire, followed by discussion, Breek helps pension funds to point out a number of points of improvement that then lead to the formulation of action points: "The good thing about this approach is that together with the board we determine things that need to be improved."

The approach could lead to saving the fund money, as trustees are made more aware of performance and the attached costs, Breek argues.

In the future Fortis would also like to export its new programme, as "the movement of pension funds doesn't stop at the border," he said.