“It Takes Patience”

Preface from the supervisory board

Pensions and retirement require time and patience. Although young people will not see any pension benefits for a while, achieving the best results requires early action. Similarly, patience and perseverance are important factors in reaching broad national consensus. And if, as a think tank and knowledge network, you see it as your role to facilitate a well-informed pension debate in the Netherlands, then quality and, above all, staying power matter. Netspar has both. Based on resounding evaluations from both academics and practitioners, Netspar has once again managed, despite sometimes difficult market conditions and pressure on government spending, to find funding for a challenging research agenda and an ambitious strategy for 2019-2023. This will be the fifth program since our founding in 2005, a matter of having a strong mission and being in it for the long haul.

Netspar has the support of very loyal partners, almost all of which have been with us from the outset. A new partner, Pensioenfonds PGB, joined the network in 2018. Our mission of facilitating first-rate, socially relevant research, with active contributions from the sector and a highly diverse program of low-threshold knowledge sharing, deserves broad support from the industry – for instance, from pension funds. In recent years, it has proved challenging to interest new parties in joining this unique knowledge network.

Job Swank
Chair Supervisory Board

Our partners, too, are interested in newer, more flexible participation models. The Supervisory Board has set up a committee to advise on Netspar’s future financing, based on the idea that its proven added value and the growing number of urgent social issues surrounding the financing of retirement are best served by having structural funding that is also broad-based.

From this perspective, it is vital for Netspar to be visible to the wide-ranging group of people whose work deals with issues related to retirement and aging. Now and then, it is also helpful to go off the beaten track, drawing attention to topics that are not necessarily in the spotlight, but are important nevertheless if we want to adequately fund people’s retirement. In the past year, Netspar generated interest by tackling such topics as the survivors pension, the provision of options during the payout phase, and growing income inequality due to disparities in life expectancy. Research projects and events also focused on pensions and big data and how to guide choice behavior. Retirement is forward-looking.

Supervisory Board and Foundation Board Agendas

In 2018, the Supervisory Board met twice in person and held one conference call. In addition to routine matters (approving the annual account, work plan, and budget), other topics on the agenda included:

  • Report of the partner evaluation commission
  • Action Plan for 2019-2023
  • Funding for 2019-2023 (including scenarios)
  • Acquisition
  • Schedule of resignations and composition of the Supervisory Board

The Foundation Board also met twice in person and held one telephone conference, discussing the new action plan, the research agenda, and future scenarios for Netspar. The Foundation Board issued positive recommendations in 2018 in relation to the following:

  • Report of the partner evaluation commission
  • Action Plan for 2019-2023 (including financing)
  • Work Plan and budget for 2019
  • Project groups on Divorce and on The Future of Work and Retirement

As of 1 January 2018, the Supervisory Board consisted of the following members:

  • Job Swank (chair, appointed by the Foundation Board, chairs Foundation Board meetings)
  • Gerard van Olphen (appointed by the Foundation Board)
  • Marco Keim (appointed by the Foundation Board)
  • Tuur Elzinga (appointed by the Labor Foundation)
  • Guusje Dolsma (appointed by the Labor Foundation)
  • Lex Meijdam (appointed by Tilburg University)

After liaising with the Foundation Board, the decision was made to leave the seat vacated in 2017 unfilled, with a view to possibly expanding Netspar with new partners. In 2018, the board representation on behalf of the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets, Nationale Nederlanden, the Labor Foundation, the Sociale Verzekeringsbank, and Utrecht University rotated. To promote coordination among the Netspar bodies, the Supervisory Board and the Foundation Council share their agendas and annual reports with each other and with the Partner Research Council.

Long Haul, New Momentum

In April 2019, Netspar launches its new action plan, with a challenging research agenda and an ambitious strategy for high-quality knowledge development, low-threshold knowledge sharing, and a highly committed network. We hope that Netspar, aided by decision-making on pension reforms, can give new, well-substantiated, momentum to a future-oriented pension discussion. Our thanks go to the contributions made by one and all in the past year to a well-structured and well-informed pension debate, which forms the foundation for the patience needed.

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.


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