The transfer market for fiduciary management in the Netherlands has all but come to a standstill. Pension funds that want to change fiduciaries prefer to wait until after their switch to the defined contribution (DC) system has been completed.
None of the largest four fiduciary managers in the country – APG, PGGM, MN and Achmea Investment Management – attracted new clients in 2023, nor did they see any leavers. Achmea IM started its fiduciary services to €6bn multi-sector scheme SBZ Pensioen in 2023, but this deal had already been concluded the year before.
The changes of fiduciary manager that did take place were mainly a result of another decision. For example, a number of funds decided to liquidate and transfer accruals to an Algemeen Pensioenfonds (APF, a pooled pension vehicle) or to an insurer.
Fiduciary manager Van Lanschot Kempen received some €2bn in pension assets via the APF Het Nederlandse Pensioenfonds from the liquidating company pension funds of Pepsico, Roba, Croda and Xerox, according to calculations by data platform Exelerating.
Kempen also acquired Haagee Stichting (pension fund Technische Unie, Van Egmond and Otra) as a client.
Apf Stap of Aegon Asset Management gained over €1bn in assets, although most of that money came from Aon’s pension fund, which was already a fiduciary client. Deutsche Bank pension fund, with €400m under management, also switched to an APF (Centraal Beheer APF). Asset manager DWS lost its last remaining fiduciary client in the Netherlands in the process.
There were also two relatively small pension funds that chose to completely outsource their fiduciary management services. Pension fund DHL outsourced this to Aegon, which was already providing strategic advice to the pension fund. Pension fund TDV appointed BlackRock as its fiduciary manager.
For both funds, the transition to the new system was an important reason to outsource all asset management services. That transition is also a direct reason why pension funds that already have a fiduciary manager prefer to stay put for the time being, Rogier van Harten of fiduciary manager Columbia Threadneedle Investments told IPE’s sister publication Pensioen Pro in a podcast last year.
The time is right?
Martijn Euverman of pension consultancy Sprenkels endorses Van Harten’s assertion.
“There have indeed been fewer changes and searches compared to previous years. This probably has to do with the fact that it is so terribly busy with the implementation of the Pensions Act (the new pension law) that pension fund boards cannot cope with the work involved in such a search,” he noted.
But it would actually make sense to switch right now, according to Euverman. After all, as pension funds are switching to new pension arrangements, which may also involve a change in investment policy, this may just be a logical moment to switch providers.
Euverman said: “It might actually be logical to reconsider with whom you want to go down this path, especially now. If you had unlimited time, you would say ‘I’m going to choose the best administrator first and then go through the transition with that party’. But in practice you see that this is being postponed until after the pension transition.”
On the other hand, it is also difficult to choose a new fiduciary manager right now, the consultant added, because no one yet has experience in the new pension system.
“This is also a reason why we see few changes in administration providers. For example, we don’t yet know who will best implement the solidarity arrangement. That’s why many pension funds choose to make the transition first. Only in a few years’ time, they will start to look at changing fiduciary managers or admin providers.”
This article was first published on Pensioen Pro, IPE’s Dutch sister publication