NETHERLANDS - The Dutch pension fund for self-employed medical specialists, SPMS has preserved its mandatory status under new legislation.

SPMS now has support from two-thirds of the country's surgeons, coronary consultants and other medical specialists. The €5bn fund eventually hopes to have the active backing of 80%.

If the scheme had failed to surpass a threshold of 60%, then it would have been obliged to close and leave members to seek private provision.

SPMS is one of the Netherlands' eleven professional funds, which cover an anomalous range from dentists to harbour steersmen. UvB, the association of professional funds, lobbied hard against the law obliging its constituents to seek active backing from their members.

But Jeroen Steenvoorden, director of SPMS, said that it had been an advantage to have to communicate with members. "It has honestly cost us money to do the roadshows to get people's signatures," he said.

"But it is a positive that we have had to think about the  governance structure of the pension fund, so we comply with the recently introduced new pension fund governance rules in the Netherlands.

Another positive side effect is that we are challenged  to communicate the benefits of  collective pension schemes to the members."

Investment performance for the fund had been good in 2006, according to Steenvoorden, although audited figures will not be out for another three months.