Project groups

Netspar brings together pension and retirement experts from the industry and academia to examine current issues from their diverse backgrounds. These project groups outline various considerations, search for common objectives, explore new fields of research, and sketch out future scenarios. Thanks to this broad scope, the project groups produce valuable insights, and often recommendations, as well, for policymakers.

The Foundation Board provides recommendations every year in September on what project groups should be formed. The Partner Research Council (PRC) formulates potential topics using the Netspar Research Agenda 2019-2023 as a starting point.

Existing Project Groups

  • Division of responsibilities in group pension provision
    This project group can assess how the division of responsibilities between pension providers relates to the demarcation of tasks between the pension pillars, and whether and how this evolves over time. This is based on the notion that the pension provider is ideally placed to assist participants / pension policyholders with advice on financial choices. This raises the following central question:
    • What is the best way to assist participants / pension policyholders with their financial planning and the complex choices involved? Who does the participant want to receive help from?
      • Is it logical for one party in the pension chain to take the lead? Or should responsibility be separated into promoting insight, providing an overview and offering a framework for action?
      • What is the impact of algorithmization / big data / robo-advice? How will the advisory role develop in the future and what role is sustainable?
      • Does this responsibility fit in with a competitive setting, particularly having regard to the duty of care? And are there possible safeguards for it? What kind of supervision is most helpful for the participant and what kind of legislation should it involve?
      • Is there added value for the pension participant in combining pension pillars? And to what extent would that be necessary / desirable, and what factors would have to be considered?
    • What impact are developments in pension communication having on the above points? Does this mean there is a role / responsibility for the pension register?
    • A similar issue arises, albeit in a broader context, in the debate on the future. Where does the division of responsibilities lie between the government, social partners and the individual? The answer to this question seems less clear-cut, particularly in the second pension pillar. It also touches on the question of where the boundary lies between the pension as a financial product (with individual responsibility) and as a social product (with collective responsibility of the government and social partners).
  • Socially responsible pension investment
    In a broad context this project group can develop a conceptual framework highlighting the role and responsibility of institutional pension investors in the Netherlands in both economic and legal terms. Within this conceptual framework it would also be possible to consider the ethical aspect of these long-term decisions, as well as the governance side, particularly in light of the prudent person principle whereby the institutional investor invests in the interests of the pension participant. That raises a number of questions that recur regularly in different forms:
    • When implementing the investment policy, is the institutional pension investor permitted to take other factors into account besides risk-return considerations?
    • If so, what factors are these and under what conditions is this allowed?
      • It is regularly suggested that a larger proportion of pension assets should be invested in the Dutch economy. No scope has been found to do so and nor has the necessary legal basis been created.
      • This is deemed much more likely to be appropriate in the case of CSR / ESG factors. The sector itself recently launched the IMVO Covenant, while the European Commission intends to supplement the prudent person principle with specific requirements governing the inclusion of ESG criteria in the investment policy. How can socially responsible investment be combined with the mandate to achieve a financially optimal pension for participants?
    • Why are factors such as Dutch economic / social interests assessed differently than CSR / ESG factors? And how does this fit in with international views? In stark contrast to the European Commission, for example, the United States considers ESG investment to be compatible with the prudent person principle only if it demonstrably benefits participants in the form of higher return and/or lower risk, even if the participants themselves express a clear desire for ESG investment.

    This project is an exploration of the horizon, albeit that steps already taken in society mean that in some areas it is actually possible to think further and go beyond a ‘mere’ exploration.

  • Pensions and Divorce
    A divorce (or termination of a domestic partnership) has a big impact on the pension of participants and their partners. The applicable legal framework is outlined in the Dutch Settlement of Pension Entitlements in the Event of Divorce Act (VPS Act) and the Pensions Act. The central question in this project is about the practical implications for pension participants and pension providers of the 2021 Pension Distribution in the Event of Divorce draft legislation. We analyze the developments in pensions and divorce in a broader context and make recommendations for the pension field, with a focus on the individual.
  • The Labor Market and Retirement
    The central question of this project is if and how existing and potential long-term developments in the labor market affect pensions and retirement. Developments such as technological advancements, globalization, and greater flexibility have consequences for the way in which labor relations are structured. Moreover, changes in labor relations have implications for the current pension system and the options and desires workers have with regard to their pensions and retirement. The project group outlines a number of scenarios for the pension system of the future based on analysis of the developments to date, insights from the literature, and innovative data analyses.

Existing Project Groups

  • Division of responsibilities in group pension provision
    This project group can assess how the division of responsibilities between pension providers relates to the demarcation of tasks between the pension pillars, and whether and how this evolves over time. This is based on the notion that the pension provider is ideally placed to assist participants / pension policyholders with advice on financial choices. This raises the following central question:
    • What is the best way to assist participants / pension policyholders with their financial planning and the complex choices involved? Who does the participant want to receive help from?
      • Is it logical for one party in the pension chain to take the lead? Or should responsibility be separated into promoting insight, providing an overview and offering a framework for action?
      • What is the impact of algorithmization / big data / robo-advice? How will the advisory role develop in the future and what role is sustainable?
      • Does this responsibility fit in with a competitive setting, particularly having regard to the duty of care? And are there possible safeguards for it? What kind of supervision is most helpful for the participant and what kind of legislation should it involve?
      • Is there added value for the pension participant in combining pension pillars? And to what extent would that be necessary / desirable, and what factors would have to be considered?
    • What impact are developments in pension communication having on the above points? Does this mean there is a role / responsibility for the pension register?
    • A similar issue arises, albeit in a broader context, in the debate on the future. Where does the division of responsibilities lie between the government, social partners and the individual? The answer to this question seems less clear-cut, particularly in the second pension pillar. It also touches on the question of where the boundary lies between the pension as a financial product (with individual responsibility) and as a social product (with collective responsibility of the government and social partners).
  • Socially responsible pension investment
    In a broad context this project group can develop a conceptual framework highlighting the role and responsibility of institutional pension investors in the Netherlands in both economic and legal terms. Within this conceptual framework it would also be possible to consider the ethical aspect of these long-term decisions, as well as the governance side, particularly in light of the prudent person principle whereby the institutional investor invests in the interests of the pension participant. That raises a number of questions that recur regularly in different forms:
    • When implementing the investment policy, is the institutional pension investor permitted to take other factors into account besides risk-return considerations?
    • If so, what factors are these and under what conditions is this allowed?
      • It is regularly suggested that a larger proportion of pension assets should be invested in the Dutch economy. No scope has been found to do so and nor has the necessary legal basis been created.
      • This is deemed much more likely to be appropriate in the case of CSR / ESG factors. The sector itself recently launched the IMVO Covenant, while the European Commission intends to supplement the prudent person principle with specific requirements governing the inclusion of ESG criteria in the investment policy. How can socially responsible investment be combined with the mandate to achieve a financially optimal pension for participants?
    • Why are factors such as Dutch economic / social interests assessed differently than CSR / ESG factors? And how does this fit in with international views? In stark contrast to the European Commission, for example, the United States considers ESG investment to be compatible with the prudent person principle only if it demonstrably benefits participants in the form of higher return and/or lower risk, even if the participants themselves express a clear desire for ESG investment.

    This project is an exploration of the horizon, albeit that steps already taken in society mean that in some areas it is actually possible to think further and go beyond a ‘mere’ exploration.

  • Pensions and Divorce
    A divorce (or termination of a domestic partnership) has a big impact on the pension of participants and their partners. The applicable legal framework is outlined in the Dutch Settlement of Pension Entitlements in the Event of Divorce Act (VPS Act) and the Pensions Act. The central question in this project is about the practical implications for pension participants and pension providers of the 2021 Pension Distribution in the Event of Divorce draft legislation. We analyze the developments in pensions and divorce in a broader context and make recommendations for the pension field, with a focus on the individual.
  • The Labor Market and Retirement
    The central question of this project is if and how existing and potential long-term developments in the labor market affect pensions and retirement. Developments such as technological advancements, globalization, and greater flexibility have consequences for the way in which labor relations are structured. Moreover, changes in labor relations have implications for the current pension system and the options and desires workers have with regard to their pensions and retirement. The project group outlines a number of scenarios for the pension system of the future based on analysis of the developments to date, insights from the literature, and innovative data analyses.

Completed Project Groups

  • Flexible Retirement
    Greater flexibility in terms of transitioning from work to retirement can have positive effects on health, job and general satisfaction, and long-term job proficiency. The Netspar Flexible Retirement project group analyzed the potential for, and bottlenecks of, flexible retirement and presented some policy considerations. Read the report (in Dutch).
  • Changing Role of Pension Providers in the Era of Big Data
    The lightning speed of developments in the field of big data and data science has a growing influence on our daily lives. This has serious implications for the pension industry. This project group analyzed what kinds of considerations pension providers might use in their strategic planning. Read the review of the Thematic Conference on this topic. Read the report (in Dutch).
  • Survivors Pension: Fragmented Design Complicates Risks
    Besides its obvious emotional impact, death also has financial consequences. Some of the major associated risks are little known or discussed, and there has been almost no attention paid to survivors pensions in the discussions surrounding the new pension contract. Reason enough to shine a light on the provisions for surviving dependents in the Netherlands. Read the report and the Netspar Brief ‘Survivors pension no longer assured’.
  • Housing, Healthcare, Retirement Require Comprehensive Approach
    Pensions and retirement savings are increasingly viewed as the central component of financial planning for old age. Yet, housing and healthcare also play an important role, each in their own way. A comprehensive approach can offer benefits for households in terms of their financial planning for retirement by including housing, healthcare, and pensions in the overall picture. Read the report (in Dutch).

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

MORE ABOUT NETSPAR


Mission en strategy           •           Network           •           Organisation           •          Magazine
Netspar Brief            •            Actionplan 2019-2023           •           Researchagenda

ABOUT NETSPAR

Our partners

B20160708_tilburg university
B20200214_BlackRock_BLK_eng_black_rgb_small
B20200104_RailOV_logoo.original.grijswaarden
Print
B20190823_mn-logo_small
View all partners