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Unions demand pension funds unite on investment

NETHERLANDS - Top-level talks between the pensions sector, insurers and banks are necessary to consolidate the Dutch position on asset management, suggests the largest union FNV.

Over half Dutch pension funds' asset management has been contracted out abroad, so a broad cooperation is needed to strengthen Amsterdam as the financial centre for asset management, FNV chair Agnes Jongerius said today.

According to Jongerius, financial jobs are increasingly shifting to London. "Although the Dutch are big savers on a global scale, it is sad that we let the connected well-paid employment be lost to us."

In Jongerius's opinion, a concerted effort to maintain asset management in the Netherlands could generate thousands of extra jobs as she estimates the number of workers directly employed in the pensions sector at 6,000, while indirectly the sector employs 40,000.

Among the FNV chair's suggestions for improvement are the establishment of a an academic institute in asset management with an increased link between education and the labour market.

In addition, the pension funds should work together in selecting their asset managers, and in finding ways to improve the returns of the Dutch investment funds, Jongerius stressed.

Angelien Kemna, CEO of ING Investment Management supports the FNV's suggestions.

"The internationalisation of asset management has already gone too far. Therefore, the Dutch pensions sector should focus on keeping its lead on pensions management and knowledge. It must take sufficient measures to make Holland attractive for pan-European schemes," added Kemna.

Peter Borfdorff, director of the Dutch Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds (VB), also commented: "The pension schemes main task is to generate the best returns. And if they get the best results abroad, so be it. However, it is important that we keep expertise and consultancy over here.

"Scaling-up is crucial if the Dutch pensions sector wants to present itself internationally. Many small pension funds should seriously consider cooperation with other schemes," Borgdorff added.

Combined assets of Dutch pension funds are approximately €700bn.

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