NETHERLANDS- Pension funds drove home their point on the restrictive nature of the Staatsen Commission at the first official hearing on Staatsen, even as one of the Commission's members sought to distance himself from the report.
Steven Schqig told parliament that while deciding the proposed 20% cap on investment, the commission had tried to make a distinction between big and small pension funds, but had failed to do so.
Schqig admitted that the commission had felt that there was no need to impose such a cap on the bigger funds as they were professionally run and had the necessary expertise. However, such a limit was needed for smaller pension funds as they were unable to manage their investments and would need approval from the regulator PVK, he said.
He added that the as the commission had failed to make a distinction between the bigger and smaller pension funds, all pension funds had to bear the 20% limit on their investments.
VB director Peter Borgdorff said: “It was a marvellous day of pension funds. One of the members of Staatsen was publicly saying that the report was not all what it should have been and distancing himself from the report.
“The pension funds pointed out to parliament that even the small pension funds were advised by investment managers and consultants, so the 20% cap would be totally ineffective.”
Major pension funds like ABP and PGGM also presented their case to parliament, stressing that while there should be prudential supervision for pension funds, there should be no restriction on investment as this would make it impossible for pension funds to operate in a profitable manner.
Borgdorff said: “Pension funds told parliament to give them the freedom to make their own investment decisions. Any curbs on normal investment for pension funds would make their operation impossible.”
Pension funds are now awaiting a formal letter of clarification from the junior minister of the department of social affairs and employment Mark Rutte, after which parliament is expected to take on board any new suggestions made by the minister, and come to its conclusions on the report.
The recommendations made by Staatsen Commission and remarks made by the junior minister supporting the Commission had aroused widespread dismay among pension funds.
The commission report had recommended curbs on all secondary activities of pensions funds and has proposed a 20% limit on ownership in a company.
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has announced it will shrink its board by more than one-third as part of a governance overhaul to make it "agile and more appropriate".
Smaller FTSE 350 defined benefit (DB) schemes were nearly 15 percentage points less well-funded than larger schemes in 2017, according to a Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) analysis.
The advent of collective pension systems could help the UK avoid demographic challenges which will make it "impossible" for society to help savers in retirement, experts say.