Dutch reforms feasible without pensions accord, say experts

first_imgDutch pension funds could introduce a sustainable pensions contract without the need for a high-level agreement or new legislation, several experts have claimed.According to Mercer, the existing legislation for bringing in an improved defined contribution plan (Wet Verbeterde Premieregeling, or WVP) – with its option of variable benefits – already offered sufficient leeway for new sustainable pension arrangements in line with those discussed by unions, employers and government.Last week, negotiations about pensions reform between the three parties broke down amid disagreement on secondary issues, including increasing the state pension age and bringing self-employed workers, or zzp’ers, into the pension system.Other experts have backed up Mercer’s view, with Erik Lutjens, professor of pensions law at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU), arguing that government legislation was also not crucial for accommodating zzp’ers in the second pillar. The WVP already complied with the conditions of a “simpler, tailor-made, flexible and sufficient pension”, as set out by Jetta Klijnsma, the former state secretary for pensions, at the start of the nationwide dialogue for a new pensions system in 2015, according to actuary Marc Heemskerk.Speaking last week at a pensions seminar hosted by his employer Mercer, Heemskerk said that the current defined contribution (DC) pension plan offered by Shell Netherlands – comprising an accrual and a benefits phase but including the elements of collectivity and solidarity favoured by the unions – could act as a blueprint for a new system.Heemskerk suggested switching to a pensions system with collective accrual for individual pension capital in a DC scheme in a pool, with participants having the option of picking their individual investment mix.He highlighted that, in the accrual phase, such a “DC plan with investment choice” would lack the often disputed elements of financial buffers and discount rate for liabilities.On the other hand, participants could benefit from the strong points in the current system, such as investment scale and solidarity through sharing investment risk, mortality risk and labour disability risk, according to the actuary.In his concept, participants’ accrued individual pension rights would be gradually shifted to the benefits pool – with diversified investments and less risk exposure – between the age of 57 and 67.If they had not opted to participate in the benefits pool beforehand, they could use their capital at retirement to shop around for benefits from an insurer, explained Heemskerk.Dutch-Canadian pensions expert Keith Ambachtsheer has also voiced support for a “simpler and more adequate” pensions system with a pool for returns and a ‘safety’ pool. Theo Kocken, CardanoTheo Kocken, founder of Cardano and professor of risk management at the VU, has proposed such a set up as well. When asked by IPE, he argued that the benefits pool with shared longevity risk would be possible under the current financial assessment framework (FTK).Accrual in the return pool could take place “with less complexity and less discount rate discussions, and with less distrust among participants as a result”, he said, adding that “the options for tailor-made investments would increase”.Kocken also highlighted that pension funds could implement both pools under the current rules for mandatory participation in a pension fund.Discount rateHeemskerk also suggested that the discount rate for liabilities – currently the market rate topped up with an ultimate forward rate (UFR) – could be replaced with the higher European UFR for insurers, which he described as “an objective quantity”.He said that the application of EIOPA’s UFR would raise the average coverage ratio of Dutch pension funds from 108.6% to 114.2% at the moment.In his opinion, such an increase would not be irresponsible “as the minimum required funding, and the trigger for rights cuts, for Dutch pension funds was 104.3%, rather than 100%”.Recently, Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of EIOPA, indicated that pension funds could also apply the European UFR for insurers, as long as it complied with the local supervisory framework.However, both Dutch regulator DNB and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees have opposed the introduction of the European UFR for pension funds, with DNB even advising insurers to be cautious using the EIOPA rate.Retirement ageThe Netherlands’ state pension (AOW) age has been set by the government at 67 and three months from 2022, with subsequent rises linked to longevity – a decision strongly opposed by trade unions.Heemskerk suggested that the dispute could be solved by taking 66 as the standard retirement age for workers facing a low pension income, usually people in hard physical jobs.AOW benefits for people with better pensions perspectives should be proportionally discounted if they decided to take their occupational pension earlier than their retirement age for the AOW, he proposed.Self-employedAt the seminar, Heemskerk also said he supported mandatory pensions accrual for self-employed workers “unless they can prove that they have sufficient pensions assets in, for example, their home or their company”.Erik Lutjens, said a high-level pensions agreement was not needed for providing zzp’ers with access to second pillar pensions.Instead, he said it could be achieved through a “simple legal change” aimed at allowing pension funds and low-cost DC vehicles (PPI) to implement pension plans for self-employed workers. The IORP II pensions directive already provided for this, he said.As an alternative, zzp’ers could be forced to join an industry-wide pension fund in their sector, Lutjens said.Meanwhile, the Dutch government has said it doesn’t expect negotiations about pensions reform to restart soon.The largest trade union FNV, for its turn, has announced industrial action, with police officers and port labourers interrupting work for 66 minutes on 13 December.Its aim is to put pressure on the government coalition through the provincial elections in March, as the county councils will then elect the new Dutch senate.last_img read more

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Federer gets bragging rights over Serena

first_imgWith 43 Grand Slam singles titles (Williams 23, Federer 20) and more than US$200 million in prize money between them, the two 37-year-olds had welcomed the chance to face each other on the court in an official match for the first time.As it turned out, the tie was decided by the mixed doubles, after both Federer and Williams won their earlier singles matches.A capacity crowd of 14,064 turned out for the tie, and they saw Federer and Bencic largely capitalise on the mixed doubles inexperience of Williams’ teammate, Francis Tiafoe, to clinch the deciding rubber under the Fast4 format, 4-2, 4-3 (5/3).Williams, who seemed to be troubled by her right shoulder during the match but said it wasn’t a concern, was disappointed her doubles experience didn’t give the Americans the edge.However, even a rare defeat couldn’t take the gloss off the experience of facing Federer for the first, and almost certainly the only, time.“I was so excited and literally it was the match of my career,” she said.“Playing someone so great and that you admire so much in a match that actually means something.“It is really great and special to go against the greatest of all time.”Federer said he was thrilled to play against one of the few players with more Grand Slam titles.“I really enjoyed playing against Serena, what an honour and pleasure,” he said.“I was nervous returning because people talk about her serve so much.“It was great fun, she is a great champion, you see how focussed and determined she is and I love that about her.”The pair posed together for a selfie after the match.– ‘Great start to season’ –In his singles match, Federer scored successive wins to start the new season with an impressive 6-4, 6-1 victory over Frances Tiafoe.The world number three was challenged early by the 39th-ranked American, but then secured the first set with a break in the 10th game.Federer won seven games in succession and eight of the last nine as Tiafoe dropped away.It was another encouraging performance from Federer as he builds his preparation for the upcoming Australian Open in Melbourne, where he will be looking to win a third successive title and seventh overall.“It’s been a great start to the season for me, I found a way and I have to be happy right now,” Federer said.“It’s about staying fit and healthy and managing the game day by day.”Williams raced to an early 3-0 lead against Bencic, but then lost her way as the Swiss number 54 gained successive breaks of serve to secure the first set.Although the American was hitting more winners, she was also making more errors and looked in trouble until she broke Bencic in the 10th game to take the set and level the match.An early break in the final set to Williams was crucial as she used her big serve to hold Bencic at bay and win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.“It was definitely a relief,” Williams said of the result.“She played really well but I knew I could play better.”If Switzerland beats Greece on Thursday they will be through to the final, where they will defend the title they won last year.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000The pair posed together for a selfie after the match © AFP / TONY ASHBYPERTH, Australia, Jan 1 – Roger Federer took the honours in the much-anticipated mixed doubles clash with fellow great Serena Williams in what the latter described as the “match of her career” at the Hopman Cup in Perth Tuesday.In the biggest mixed doubles drawcard in the 31-year history of the tournament, in what is expected to be its final edition, Federer teamed with Belinda Bencic to win the match in straight sets under the Fast4 format and win the Group B tie for Switzerland.last_img read more

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Liverpool title win will not heal Gerrard’s ‘wound’

first_imgLiverpool currently trail Manchester City by one point at the top of the table with nine games remaining.“This wound has been open since my experience. I’m not sure it’ll close because I can’t change that experience,” Gerrard, who left Liverpool after 17 years as a player in 2015, told reporters.“It doesn’t affect how I feel now. I look at a squad of players, some of whom I’m still friends with.“I see a support that gave me absolutely everything from the terraces and around the world.“I just hope for their sake, and mine as a supporter, that come the end of the competition they are victorious. But it won’t make me or my wound feel any different.”Klopp’s side have been accused of letting the pressure get to them in recent weeks, having blown the chance to open up a seven-point lead over City just over a month ago by drawing at home to Leicester and have since been held on the road by West Ham, Manchester United and Everton.“My advice, having been a player in that team and playing for those supporters for so long, would be don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it. Believe in yourselves,” added Gerrard.“I think it is only normal for the supporters. They want it more than anyone. They will help. The players have to see it as a help rather than a hindrance.“When we were in that situation, I didn’t feel suffocated from the fans. I actually felt they were right behind us and with us and wanted it so much. I saw it as a help rather than a hindrance.”The 18-time English champions could easily set a club record points tally and still fall short of a relentless City side, that romped to the league with 100 points last season.And Gerrard insists should that be the case, Liverpool’s season should not be seen as a failure.“Certain people will see it as failure but that is football and opinions. Jurgen has taken the squad forward giant strides. He’s doing everything he can,” he added.“Sometimes in football, if someone beats you to it, you have to hold your hands up and say the better team won.“I hope that’s not the case but I don’t think you can be too critical if you have been fantastic yourself and have done ever so well to be in it in the first place.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard failed to win the Premier League as a player © AFP / OLI SCARFFLONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 8 – As a Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard won almost every trophy bar the Premier League and despite urging Jurgen Klopp’s men to end the club’s 29-year wait for the title this season he admits it will not ease his personal pain.Gerrard, now manager of Scottish giants Rangers, famously slipped to hand Chelsea the opener of a 2-0 win at Anfield in April 2014 with Liverpool on course to win the league.last_img read more

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