Pension funds' monthly funding ratio in the Netherlands 2019-2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused the average funding ratio of Dutch pension funds to decrease by ten percent in March 2020. Concerns about the economic consequences sparked unrest on the stock market, causing investors to run to save havens. The consequential drop in rents, such as on ten-year government bonds in the Netherlands, lead to the largest drop in money reserves for Dutch pension funds, causing uncertainty whether pension savers in the country can get their money when they retire.

Pension savings in the Netherlands are tied to the financial markets

In terms of worth, the Dutch pension system is the second largest of Europe. In 2018, the pension system in the Netherlands had nearly 1,500 billion euros worth of assets under management (AUM). Pension participation is mandatory, with part of one’s salary being transferred to a pension fund every month. Funds then use these payments to invest on the financial markets. Government bonds are a popular pick, as these are relatively safe investments. This results in two things, however. First, if the financial markets are hit by unrest (for example, due to the coronavirus or geopolitical events like the Brexit in 2019) pension funds will be affected. Also, Dutch authorities must monitor that all pension funds have enough financial reserves so that they can be able to pay retirees, especially the five largest ones.

What do all these ratios mean?

The ratios listed here measure whether all 220 pension funds in the Netherlands have enough money reserves to pay out pension benefits, to both current as well as future retirees. Funding ratios are calculated by dividing the value of a pension’s assets (investments) by the value of their liabilities (current and future benefits to be paid out). Values above 100 percent indicate that pensions have enough money reserves. The average funding ratio (in Dutch: gemiddelde dekkingsgraad looks at the ratio in the current month (i.e. February 2020 only), whereas the policy funding ratio (beleidsdekkingsgraad) looks at the average over the past 12 months (i.e. February 2019 up until February 2020). However, the funding ratio is subject to statutory rules as the 12-month average is measured against a minimum required ratio. If a ratio is too low, it must take measures to improve its financial situation. In extreme cases, this could lead to cuts such as pension benefits being lowered or not even being distributed at all. Since pension savings are more than half of all household assets in the Netherlands, this event could have serious consequences.

Funding ratios of pension funds in the Netherlands from February 2019 to May 2020

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Source

Release date

June 2020

Region

Netherlands

Survey time period

February 2019 to May 2020

Supplementary notes

The month of July is a holiday month in the Netherlands, and therefore there are no numbers for that month.

The minimum required ratio (in Dutch: wettelijk vereiste minimum dekkingsgraad was temporarily adjusted in November 2019 by the Dutch government, due to the risk of pension cuts.

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