Bridging the gap

Benchmark responsible investment by pension funds in the Netherlands 2015

Bridging the gap

1.1 Background

The pension funds are assessed and scored on the following themes:


This category focuses on the governance of the pension funds and the role the board and participant’s councils pro-actively play in shaping and monitoring the responsible investment policy.


Policy focuses on the responsible investment policy in place. Its reach, depth and quality are surveyed. Does the policy, for example, cover all the asset classes and are indicators men- tioned on which the policy can be evaluated? In this ninth benchmark questions on 'strategic asset allocation' and 'long-term policy goals' have been added to this category.


Implementation considers the actual implementation of the responsible investment policy. What are the methods used and are they effective and thoroughly implemented throug- hout all asset-classes? The included asset classes are: public listed equity; corporate bonds; government bonds; real estate and alternative investments. In this edition a question on 'se- curities lending' has been added to this category.


This category investigates how communication on responsible investment takes place. Do pension funds describe their in- vestment policy and do they report the results on all asset classes? Do all stakeholder have access to this information?

This year’s report highlights a special form of communication: active transparency on responsible investment. Which investi- gates the use of the various (modern) communication tools to reach out to participants on the topic of responsible investment.

This is the ninth annual edition of the VBDO Benchmark Respon- sible Investment by Pension Funds in the Netherlands. It is published by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO). Profundo, a research consultancy, per- formed an external consistency check on the results. The benchmark study presents developments on the way the Dutch pension funds formulate, implement and report on their responsible investment policy.

1.2 Objectives

The objective of this report is to provide pension funds and their participants insight into the current status of responsible investment among the 50 largest Dutch pension funds. This comparative study offers pension funds an impartial instru- ment to assess how their policies and practices regarding responsible investment compare to those of their peers.

A study into the responsible investment policies of pension funds remains of great importance considering the large sums invested, totaling more than €1 trillion as covered by this study. The present study gives all stakeholders insight into the Dutch pension funds as to whether and how the money is invested in a sustainable way.

1.3 Approach and methodology

This benchmark and the scoring are composed on the basis of an iterative process. The VBDO sends a questionnaire that is filled in by the pension funds. VBDO, in co-operation with Profundo which verifies these results. This year a response rate of 98% was achieved. Pension funds that do not respond are scored on the basis of publicly available information.

The overall score is calculated on the basis of the score in each category and their weighing factors as shown in figure 1.1.

1.4 Respons rate and changes

With a solid response rate of 98%, we are proud to offer this thorough assessment and to provide both a general and a detailed overview of the current status and trends in Dutch pension funds regarding responsible investment.

In this ninth benchmark questions on 'securities lending' and 'strategic asset allocation' have been added. A thorough review of the given answer as well as the addition of new questions do affect the methodology, however no fundamental changes were made compared to last year, thereby allowing for compa- rison. The methodology applied in this study has been described in the appendix.

1.5 Content

Chapter 2 starts with editorials of leading thinkers and experts in the fields of sustainable finance and/or pension funds. They share their perspectives on the role of pension funds and the place that investments have in furthering sustainable devel- opment.

Chapter 3 highlights the overall results of the benchmark. It also provides a breakdown of the scores. The final chapter presents concluding remarks and recommendations based on this year’s findings. 

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