NETHERLANDS - The Dutch association of industry-wide pension funds (VB) has commissioned a study into the costs of its 82 members in a bid help affiliated schemes compare the charges they incur.

For the first time ever, the study - to be carried out by Canadian firm Cost Effectiveness Measurement Benchmarking Inc. (CEM) - will focus on the costs of both asset management and administration of all of VB's members, the lobbying organisation said.

As part of the project, CEM will also make a cost comparison between Dutch pension funds and schemes in other countries.

CEM already has representative data over of 300 schemes worldwide, including figures from at least 10 major Dutch schemes - some of which are not VB members, according to a VB spokesman.

"Through benchmarking, pension funds can transparently account for their costs to their participants," suggested Mike Healey, partner at CEM.

The study will begin early next year and preliminary results are expected to become available at the end of 2009, reckons VB.

Researchers at the pension regulator De Nederlandsche Bank looked into the costs and benefits of collective pension funds two years ago and suggested pension funds are considerably more cost-effective than insurers.

"The new study is meant to increase our existing knowledge about costs," said the VB spokesman.

VB is the lobbying organisation of 82 industry-wide pension funds, or 75% of all Dutch collective schemes, and represents the pension interests of 12.7m participants.