NETHERLANDS - F&C has thrown its weight behind moves to compel Dutch pension fund managers to disclose their voting records.

Draft legislation currently before the Dutch parliament would require all domestic pension funds to disclose how they voted at corporate annual general meetings.

Critics have suggested the new rules will place an unfair burden on smaller pension funds. But Henk Breunkink, managing director of F&C Netherlands, today rejected their claims, pointing out that smaller members of OPF, the Dutch pension fund association, outsource their investment portfolios to external fund managers.

In a statement, he indicated that the onus was on managers of these outsourced funds to account for voting decisions.

“Any fund manager should be able to provide the level of accountability proposed by Dutch legislators, no matter how small the pension fund client,” he said. “If a fund manager appears to be unable to fulfil this requirement, then this new law will reveal that there is a problem in terms of the service the asset managers should be equipped to provide.”

The UK fund management firm played down the significance of potential new disclosure rules, pointing out that many investors already do it.

“We expect high standards of the companies we invest in and we live up to the same standards,” F&C associate director Olivia Lankester told IPE. “There has been some concern that disclosure will open up fund managers to pressure from single-issue lobby groups. That concern has been overstated. If it happens, it’s a fact of life. There’s no excuse for secrecy.”

Karina Litvack, head of governance at the firm, said more transparency “will encourage more thoughtful voting, which is in the interests of shareholders and…company management”.