global pension reforms have increased the need for personalised pension
information and improved financial literacy. Worldwide, pension institutions
are faced with the challenge of providing their members with an overview of
their future pension entitlements and the uncertainties associated with forecasts.
the European associations EAPSPI (European Association of Public Sector Pension
Institutions) and ESIP (European Social Insurance Platform), together with the
information service FindyourPension organised a joint conference on
pension communication. The conference took place on 5 February at the
University of Leuven, a neighbouring city of Brussels.
The focus was on best practices
in communicating pension information to insured persons as well as information
across pillars. Experts from Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden, where
cross-pillar information is already well advanced, were given the opportunity
to speak. The presentation from the FindyourPension platform for mobile
researchers, which was previously funded by the German Ministry of Research,
provided a good insight into experiences with cross-border information.
way of the future can be seen with the European Tracking Service (ETS) project
that started a month ago and which is being funded by the European Commission. The
project involves both second pillar institutions and national first pillar
institutions, either directly or through their national cross-pillar tracking
service. The ETS will provide mobile workers who have registered with personalised
cross-border pension information.
Project Manager of the ETS, Claudia Wegner-Wahnschaffe from the German VBL,
announced that the service could start its practical work within two years,
even though initially only a few countries are covered.
Steven Janssens, General
Director of the Belgian social database Sigedis, added that the Belgian and
Dutch tracking systems could join within 18-24 months. Denmark, Sweden and
Norway could follow soon. Initially, there will be information about first and second
pillar institutions in which entitlements have been acquired, including their
amount. However, Wegner-Wahnschaffe added that it could be up to 12 years
before all Member States are linked and the system is completed.
project will be presented to interested parties in September. This will include
certain topics being discussed in ‘open working groups’, such as issues related
to IT and data exchange with national sources and their standardisation.
agreed that the project can only be realised step by step and that it must be
kept as simple as possible, at least in the initial phase, that national specifcities
must be taken into account, and that detailed information should initially be
retained by national information systems. Furthermore, the majority of participants
were against a legal obligation for Member States to participate in the ETS.
is also casting its shadow on this project. It is unlikely that the United
Kingdom will provide data to the ETS after leaving the EU. However, users from
the UK would still have access to the system, Janssens said.
special attention was drawn to the role of social media in educating and
informing citizens. The event is seen as the first step in regular in-depth
cooperation between pension insurance funds from different countries and
Yves Stevens from the University of Leuven took a more critical look at the
debate over pension information. About five years ago, things were relatively
certain: information and education was supposed to promote understanding of the
legitimacy of pension reforms and show citizens the need for complementary pension
provisions. Today we know that it is more about ‘ideologically’ accompanying a
policy that consistently does away with the solidarity of old-age pensions and shifts
all risks to the individual.
has to wonder whether citizens, despite all this information, are even capable
of making sound decisions. Under the circumstances, it has become more
difficult to build trust. The challenge now is to convey an adequate picture of
the risks of privately-funded pension plans, including through projections and
by establishing ‘awards’.