Notaries scheme to cut pensions
NETHERLANDS - The €721m pension fund for notaries' employees will decrease benefits and accrued pension rights by 2.1% on 1 January 2011. The measure is necessary to return to an achievable recovery scenario leading to a funding ratio of at least 105% at the end of 2013. The industry-wide scheme had already factored in a 6.8% discount on 1 April 2012 in its recovery plan, but the outgoing social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner deemed earlier cuts to be inevitable. The pension fund board noted in a letter to its participants that it had deliberately kept the current discount as low as possible but noted that future cuts still remained an option. The pension fund attributed its low funding ratio in part to a weak starting position, with a funding of 116% and 88% at the end of 2007 and 2008, respectively. Its employers were not able to finance a 2% rise in contributions in addition to plugging the scheme's financial gap in 2009, it explained. The notaries have been hit financially by the collapse of the housing market. The Stichting Bedrijfspensioenfonds voor medewerkers in het Notariaat has 7,000 active participants, over 12,000 deferred members and over 2,000 pensioners. Its coverage ratio was 92.6% at the end of October. Elsewhere, the €5bn industry-wide scheme for housing corporations (SPW) said that the large pension provider APG will take over the asset management from Cordares on 1 April 2011. Cordares was SPW's pension provider when it merged with APG in 2008, but according to SPW it should not be assumed that APG would automatically continue to be its asset manager. However, SPW indicated that an extensive risk analysis as well as an investigation into product characteristics, forecasted returns and management costs have shown that APG is the best option.