Dutch multi-sector fund PGB has decided it will not take part in a planned experiment to offer a pension arrangement to the self-employed. The fund has concluded it’s not possible to execute this in a cost-efficient way under current rules.

PNO Media, which has total assets in excess of €7bn, has come to the same conclusion.

“In recent months we have had discussions with the ministry of social affairs about the implementation of the legal framework. These discussions have not removed our concerns about administrative implementation and the cost level,” PGB’s president Jochem Dijckmeester wrote in an email.

He added: “At this moment we therefore see no opportunity to introduce a pension arrangement that is attractive for both the self-employed and for us as a pension fund.” Earlier this year PGB had listed “acceptable costs and sufficient potential” as preconditions to start an experiment with pensions for the self-employed.

PNO Media is also putting plans for an experiment with self-employed pensions on the backburner. The fund believes it would only be interesting to offer a pension arrangement to the self-employed if this would take the form of a mandatory arrangement.

“Offering a pension to the self-employed would, in my opinion, only make sense if the government designs a central, mandatory arrangement to this end,” said the fund’s interim-president Roeland Van Vledder, who fears PNO will draw insufficient interest to offer a cost-efficient solution if it concerns a voluntary arrangement.

“In that scenario it will become an expensive affair leading to an increase in administrative costs, which should make us question whether we can do this to our other members,” according to Van Vledder, who said the decision to pull out is not yet final as PNO’s board is yet to have a final say.

In January this year the fund for employees in the media sector, which counts many self-employed, had voiced interest in starting an experiment for the self-employed.

PGB, for its part, does not exclude starting an experiment for the self-employed at a later stage.

“We are convinced that access of the self-employed to the second pillar is an important theme,” said Dijckmeester.

“Therefore we hope there will be another opportunity in the future to start a pension arrangement for this group, that has a better chance of success and meets our conditions,” he added.

Other funds ‘on hold’

The possibility for pension funds to start offering pensions to the self-employed is part of the new Dutch pension law which is expected to come into force by 2023.

The remaining funds that earlier had voiced interest in taking part in an experiment for the self-employed – ABP, PFZW and Bouw, the pension fund for the construction industry – still want to continue with their plans, but their patience is being tested.

“PFZW is eager – given the societal interest and specific needs in the cultural sector – to start an experiment for the self-employed but under current circumstances this is unfortunately not possible,” a spokesperson said.

Bouw is also disappointed by the lack of legislative progress. Therefore the fund has put its working group that has been preparing a future pension arrangement for the self-employed on hold, said fund director David van As.

“But we still have the intention to offer a pension arrangement to for example former participants who now work as self-employed in the construction sector.” he added.

Civil service scheme ABP is taking a similar stance. “We have decided to put our plans on hold and we are waiting for the next steps by the legislator,” a spokesperson said.

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