Centrum PensPlan's seal of quality
Centrum PensPlan is the company set up to develop all the necessary operations for the regional Trentino Alto Adige’s supplementary pensions provision project. It also has a mandate to offer economic support by helping people in temporary financial difficulty make their fund contributions and provide adequate guarantees concerning the retirement savings of pension funds’ members.
The company’s objective is to allow access for the region’s entire population to the various forms of voluntary retirement savings that represent the best alternatives to the basic pensions system, which is facing potential contraction.
Given that the diffusion of supplementary pensions is very low in Italy, the Centrum PensPlan aims to ensure that the services it provides to regional pension funds are of the highest quality, security and transparency.
In order to do this the company has placed maximum importance on the quality of its services since PensPlan was set up. Moreover, given that the services it offers to regional funds are free, it has had to define these services with utmost clarity and transparency. To this end, the company developed a service manual CD.
In order to get an official seal of approval to the quality structure, the next step was to adapt the fund’s structure to conform to UNI EN ISO 9001: 2000.
On August 5 2002, DNV (Det Norske Veritas), the main certificate of quality awarding company operating at international level, declared that Centrum PensPlan was to receive the certificate of quality UNI EN ISO 9001: 2000, thanks to “its planning and development of services relating to technical consultancy linked to the administrative and accounting management services offered to pension funds; its services surrounding the coordination and promotion of the activities of the pension funds; the information it makes available on supplementary retirement provision”.
Being awarded this certificate was achieved in very little time following the birth of the company, and the comprehensive appraisal that DNV made of Centrum PensPlan’s success in the three key areas – policy, objectives, strategy – meant it received maximum scores on all three counts. Thus Centrum PensPlan became the first Italian company operating in the field of retirement provision to be awarded a certificate of quality. Furthermore, Centrum PensPlan’s subsidiary company, PensPlan Invest SGR, which deals with the planning and development of investment services, financial consultancy services and back-office operations services has also received certification.
In order to deal with the risks that pensions responsibility brings for management boards of closed funds, which tend to be made up of union and member company representatives rather than experts, Centrum PensPlan has stipulated two civil responsibility professional service guarantees within the company: one to cover the entire organisation (assuring against errors in omissions in the provision of general pensions services) and one to cover directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liabilities (assuring against institutional conflict of interest among directors and managers). The two service guarantees also apply to PensPlan Invest SGR.
Ultimately these service guarantees are intended not just for the directors of the funds included in the PensPlan project but also as a guarantee of maximum timeliness and transparency for regional fund members in the event of them claiming compensation.
The proposals are currently under review by the boards of the aforementioned pension funds.
The style and approach used in the PensPlan project received the ultimate accolade when the president of the Italian pension fund supervisory board, Covip, explicitly described PensPlan as being “worthy of attention, even if it were difficult to reproduce in the exact same form elsewhere”.
PensPlan believes that the two areas where other regions in Italy could copy the company and strive to achieve success are the quality assurance award and the civil responsibility assurance guarantees for both directors and fund members.
The quality assurance award would ensure that people of other regions would see their retirement savings managed by reputable and reliable management companies and pension funds, whilst the civil responsibility guarantees would assist those in charge of the funds and the companies they represent to take important decisions objectively and with assurance.