Preface from de Supervisory Board
Netspar launched its new multi-year program in April 2019 under the title “Pensions in Transition.” The research agenda has three primary themes: pension reform, life-cycle planning, and social change and long-term developments. The pension reform component focuses on the pressing matter of the implementation of the Pension Agreement. The further development of life-cycle planning and the impact of societal developments on financing retirement and old age have somewhat longer horizons. Last year, Netspar awarded nearly 1 million euros for new research, research that is valuable to practitioners because of Netspar’s approach, to a certain extent, and that has reinforced the foundation upon which Netspar operates as an honest broker of knowledge. The corona crisis will undoubtedly have an impact on the research agenda in the coming period and requires flexibility. The crisis shows the value of science.
One of the network’s major ambitions is to share knowledge in an easily accessible manner, so that the results of its research can serve as input for policy innovation, pension communications, and pension and retirement products. The visibility of Netspar in the media is also important to this. In 2019, there were over 100 reports on Netspar research in the national newspapers and television in the Netherlands, not including social media.
That visibility is also critical for further expanding the Netspar network. Pension administrator MN joined Netspar for a one-year term in September 2019, with the intention of making a long-term commitment. And in December, BlackRock announced that it would become a Netspar participant per 1 January 2020.
Chair of the Supervisory Board
Broadening the Support Base: Strategic Committee
The conclusion of the funding round deliberations for 2019-2023 was that going forward, a broadening of the support base for Netspar (in terms of both content and funding) was needed. Last spring, the Supervisory Board asked a strategic committee chaired by Bianca Tetteroo to present recommendations [LINK] for the future funding of Netspar. One of its major recommendations was to align funding with the various needs for long-term research and short-term, policy-specific research. Part of that is developing a new, low-threshold sponsorship arrangement targeted at knowledge sharing, education, and connections/networking. Another recommendation was to work more closely with parties in the area of scientific funding. Both of these recommendations are being acted upon.
Agreements have since been reached with Instituut Gak about a new, additional form of research funding. Additionally, in the past year, the partnership with Click NL (an innovation platform for the creative sector) was further developed, which included co-funding provisions for Netspar research.
Efforts will continue in the year ahead to boost Netspar’s visibility, attract new partners (including pension funds), and strengthen Netspar’s acquisition power. This will serve to reinforce Netspar’s foundations moving forward, so that scientific research continues to contribute to the future of retirement and old age financing in the Netherlands in a practical way.
As of the writing of this 2019 Annual Report, the Supervisory Board has known for some time that Casper van Ewijk has asked to be alleviated of his Netspar duties as director and board member effective 1 September 2020 as a result of reaching retirement age in April 2020. The Supervisory Board has every confidence that it will find a successor before that time.
Agenda and Composition of the Supervisory Board
The Supervisory Board met once in 2019, in April. Included on the agenda were the 2018 Annual Report and Financial Statements, the official terms for the assignment of the strategic committee, the recruitment of MN, and the roster of resignations plus vacancies on the Supervisory Board.
The fall meeting scheduled to address such items as determining the 2020 budget, discussing the recommendations on future funding, adapting the criteria for academic partnerships, and addressing the roster of resignations from the Supervisory Board was postponed pending the filling of two vacancies on the Supervisory Board. That meeting was eventually held 25 February 2020.
The final term for Chair Job Swank was set to expire at the end of December 2019. Job had been unavailable since June, however, due to illness. The Supervisory Board appointed Lex Meijdam as interim chair. On 1 January 2019, Gerald van Olphen, Guusje Dolsma, and Tuur Elzinga started their second terms on the board. Lex Meijdam started his second term on 1 February 2019.
The Foundation Board approved the appointment of two new Supervisory Board members in December. Bianca Tetteroo was appointed per 1 January 2020, and Wouter Bos assumed the position of chair per 1 February 2020. The board has one remaining vacant seat, to be appointed by the Foundation Board.
Agenda and Composition of the Foundation Board
The Foundation Board met once physically, in September, and discussed the 2020 work plan and budget and the recommendations of the strategic committee. It issued positive recommendations in 2019 regarding:
- The 2020 work plan and budget;
- The 2020 project groups;
- The appointment of the two new Supervisory Board members (unanimous write-in vote).
In addition, in March 2019, the Foundation Board submitted questions in writing concerning the 2018 Annual Report and Financial Statements. The questions and answers were included as part of the Financial Statements presented for approval to the Supervisory Board in April 2019.
In 2019, the staff representation on the Foundation Board on behalf of Achmea, APG, a.s.r., NN, PGGM, and the Labor Foundation was rotated out. MN joined as of September 1, 2019. To promote coordination among the Netspar bodies, the agendas and reports of the Supervisory Board and Foundation Board are shared between them and with the Partner Research Council.
Thanks to Job Swank
The Supervisory Board owes a huge debt of gratitude to Job Swank for the motivational way in which he fulfilled his role as chair. When he was re-appointed chair in 2018, Job indicated that he would be available for no more than one year. He wanted to provide continuity with an eye to securing funding for the 2019-2023 period and beyond. Job had an incredibly long history of service as an adviser and supervisor at Netspar. We want to thank him for his invaluable contribution to Netspar, first as a member of the so-called Advisory Board and then, from 2012, as a member and eventually chair of the Supervisory Board. Job always had a keen eye for the heart of the matter, while looking toward the future. He helped come up with solutions, without being prescriptive or absolutist. Under his leadership, meetings of the Supervisory Board and the Foundation Board always started right on time and were conducted with a mix of humor and seriousness. As chair, Job challenged everyone to look for new solutions and constantly reiterated the need for greater visibility for Netspar in playing a decisive role.
And Thanks to Everyone Involved
Fostering a well-informed pension debate: that is an aim shared by Netspar partners in academia and industry alike. The involvement of a wide range of experts from the industry makes the scientific research provided valuable to professional practice and truly contributes to the pension transition.
For which we are grateful.