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Social partners critical of VB governance plan

NETHERLANDS - The largest Dutch employer’s organisation, the VNO-NCW, and the FNV trade union have expressed opposition to governance proposals put forward by the VB.

The VB, the Dutch Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds, formulated the concept of a so-called supervisory council to govern pension funds with Allen & Overy and Boer & Croon earlier this year.

The employers and unions now say they are against the implementation of an additional supervisory council, which could interfere with current pension fund management structures.

Gerard Verheij, pension secretary/specialist of VNO-NCW, told IPE that his organisation still supports the current framework in which all social partners have a say.

Within the current system, the large diversity between pension funds is taken into account, leaving all respective funds to set up their own governing bodies, based on their respective situation.

To propose a new governance system, in which a new supervisory council is implemented, does not take into account the diversity of the sector at present. And VNO-NCW admits that changes will be necessary but this should be left to the respective boards of the pension funds.

Principles can be valid for all, but the implementation of specific aspects should be left to the funds themselves. He also indicated that most of the middle- and smaller funds at present should be left alone to cope with the already immense amount of new changes, without being confronted by additional structures.

This position was supported by the largest Dutch trade union, the FNV. The FNV’s Peter Gortzak stated that at present the VB proposal is a concept discussion piece.

Of course, he stated, the trade union supports increased influence for employees and pensioners, but this should not interfere with already structures which are performing very well.

If a new supervisory body will be introduced, this will not only constrain the current structure and management of a fund, but additionally will diffuse existing responsibilities of the pension fund structures.

The competence of current bodies would diminish further. He also admitted that it will not be feasible to implement a general structure for all, based on the fact that there are too many different pension funds. He stated that it is also an issue of principle.

“If you want to have a good governance structure, all factors need to be clear, especially the issue of responsibility. You cant work in a structure in which nobody knows who is responsible for what?”

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