Leiden University researchers Dr. Natascha van der Zwan and Dr. Philipp Golka from the ‘Democratic Governance of Funded Pension Schemes’ project (DEEPEN), have started an empirical evaluation of Dutch pension funds at the request of the Monitoringcommissie Code Pensioenfondsen of the Pensioenfederatie. Focus of the evaluation is the role of internal supervision in ensuring good governance in the Dutch pension sector.
The research project has three focus areas: First, the project investigates the role of internal supervision in safeguarding trust from current, past and retired pension members and aims to uncover avenues through which this role can be strengthened further in the future. Second, the project aims to evaluate the role of internal supervision in ensuring diversity and inclusion within Dutch pension funds. Here, a particular emphasis is placed on understanding if and how the Code Pensioenfondsen that defines important guidelines for pension funds can be improved in these regards. Third, the role of internal supervision for enhancing the learning capacity of Dutch pension funds is investigated while respective good practices are identified.
In order to address these research questions, the DEEPEN team members, together with support from Leiden student Aalt-Jan Smits, will use quantitative and qualitative methods. First, a survey that addresses all Dutch pension funds will be conducted that will be followed up by clarifying interviews. Second, a small number of round table discussions with pension professionals will help to identify barriers and good practices. Lastly, in-depth qualitative studies will be conducted in order to yield robust results. These findings will be contrasted with results from the DEEPEN project.
The Dutch pension sector
With pension assets of approximately €1.7 trillion or XY% of the Dutch GDP, the Dutch pension sector is not only one of the most developed in the world, but also of vital importance to the Dutch economy. As the internal supervision function is still a relatively new one in Dutch pension governance, investigating its effects and potentials for improvement has a far-reaching social impact. As Dutch pension funds hold significant stakes across the global economy, pension fund governance represents a crucial lever for achieving a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy.