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Pension fund for Dutch notaries to reconsider its independence

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  • Pension fund for Dutch notaries to reconsider its independence

NETHERLANDS - The €1.1bn occupational pension fund for Dutch notaries (SNPF) is to consider how and even whether to continue as an independent scheme as part of a wider policy review, according to its 2011 annual report.

Responding to questions from the scheme's accountability body as to whether "solid pension arrangements" should be achieved through an independent SNPF, chairman Gijs Alferink said: "The board will also look into the options of extending the current basic pension plan with arrangements for a full pension accrual."

Despite a return of 10.3% last year, as well as a rights cut of almost 2% on 1 January 2011, the notaries scheme saw its funding ratio drop to 89.3% at the end of August.

The scheme suggested an additional rights discount of 5.8% on 1 April 2013 would be likely, to achieve the required minimum funding of 104.3% at the end of next year.

At the end of 2011, the pension fund introduced a new governance structure following the regulator's conclusion that the board had too little control over the scheme.

The new set-up consists of a smaller, five-strong board, including three external experts and a separate supervisory board of three external members for internal supervision.

In addition, a pensions council is to represent all groups of participants on pension arrangements.

The board said one of its main tasks was to continue to de-risk asset management.

Following a recent asset-liability management study, it will update its strategic investment policy, initially focusing on the exclusion of asset classes and decreasing tracking errors in parts of the portfolio.

SNPF's strategic investment plan will also aim for at least two asset managers with different investment mandates per asset class, a further spread of risks and improvement of the risk/return ratio.

In 2011, the notaries scheme liquidated its fully owned pensions provider UNP, replacing it with a pensions bureau to "simplify" its administration and transparency.

The annual report also showed that the scheme accountability body questioned the legitimacy of last year's internal supervision, as a member of the one-tier board at the time had been involved in the internal supervision.

The accountability body also described the information provided by the board as "sub-standard".

Last year, the SNPF lost 5.8% on its 20.1% equity portfolio, whereas its 74.3% fixed income holdings returned 15.1%. Private equity investments returned 13.3%.

The Stichting Notarieel Pensioenfonds has 6,470 participants in total, with 3,220 active members and 1,520 deferred participants.

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