The new Dutch Pensions Law, which came into effect on 1 January, requires pension funds to communicate "clearly, understandably and in time" with their participants.

As a response to this requirement, PBM Pensioen Bestuur & Management (Pension Governance & Management) a professional journal for governors and management of pension funds in the Netherlands, is launching a series of awards to encourage pension funds to improve their communication efforts.

A committee of judges drawn from senior figures in the pensions world will assess the entries. Although the regulator on communications, the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets AFM, is not represented on the committee for reasons of independence, it strongly supports the initiative for the awards.

PBM is a quarterly professional journal for governors and management of pension funds in the Netherlands which covers issues of interest to boards of governors and managing directors - including the communication requirement of the new pensions law.

The scheme recognises that there are substantial differences in the quality and intensity of pension funds communications. Some funds are highly professional and already well advanced. Others have some catching up to do if they are to satisfy the new requirements.

It is hoped that the publication of best practice in an awards scheme will demonstrate to other funds, in a practical way, how they can improve their communications policy. A willingness to share knowledge and experience is a distinguishing characteristic of the Dutch pensions world.


he PBM Communication Awards covers all relevant areas of pension funds and are divided into four categories. Funds are encouraged to enter in one or more categories with the chance of nomination for an award. All nominated entries are also judged for the ‘Communication Overall Winner' award 2007.

The categories are:

o Best in communication with participants, pensioners and members with referred pension rights;

o Best in communication with employers;

o Best in communication with stakeholders, decision makers and press;

o Best in innovative communication.

Entry to the awards is free and open to all Dutch pension funds and pension administrators. A fund that considers to register must clearly indicate in which category it wants to enter. Funds can enter in more categories. Each entry must meet with the following criteria:

o The basis for each entry is a relevant description of the fund and of the specific situation or case;

o A fund which registers in more than one category must indicate clearly why it should be nominated for each category;

o Achievements should, as far as possible, be demonstrated qualitatively and quantitatively, for example by means of research results;

o Each entry must be accompanied of a clear analysis of the target group and the specific definition of the problem;

o In case of a specific campaign, the communication targets from the start should be indicated;

o Comprehension is an important factor the new pension law's communication requirement. The committee of judges will pay special attention to the ways in which funds ensure that their message is understood.

Customisation is important in communication. The judges will take special account of the way funds bridge the gap between their particular customers and themselves. The size of the fund is less important. Each fund, large or small, is encouraged to register for the awards. Size alone is not enough for qualification or for nomination.

The judges will focus particularly on customisation and innovation, and PBM expects a number of smaller and medium-sized funds to register as well as the larger ones.

Under the rules of the awards, funds must register themselves, and some pension funds have already decided to register. Pension funds can register by visiting the PBM-website ( and click on Communicatieprijzen. The final day for entries is 23 March, 2007.

The PBM Communications Awards will be presented at the annual PBM Pensions Conference at the Kurhaus hotel in Scheveningen on 24 May.

The committee of judges will consist of Cees van Riel, professor of corporate communication at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam (chairman); Theo Langejan, director-general labour relations and international relations at the ministry of social affairs; Laurens Roodbol, board Benne van Popta, and chairman VB, the organisation for industry-wide pension funds; Frans Prins, managing director of Opf, organisation for company pension funds; Pierre Akkermans, chairman of the board of KPS, an independent foundation of pension specialists; Contijn van Marle, legal adviser at the Pensions Ombudsman; Karel Stroobants, former chairman of the organisation of Belgian pension funds; and Carel Petersen, editor-in-chief of PBM.