NETHERLANDS – Pensions communication requires a tailor-made approach, in particular by the employer, which should be subject to the different characteristics of company schemes, industry-wide pension funds or insurers, according to the Labour Foundation (STAR).
In a series of recommendations for improved communication, the consultation platform for employers and employees nonetheless also stressed that some degree of uniformity was important, to keep the supplied information comprehensible and transparent.
It advised to that the tasks facing the employer and pensions provider by drawn up in a communications plan by each pension fund.
Companies could provide participants with brochures containing basic information and clarification of the pension plan, and could also facilitate sessions for questions, the STAR suggested.
The provider should answer participants' questions about, for example, partner pension, value transfer and continuing their participation in the pension fund, when they leave a company, it pointed out.
However, the platform for employers and employees also underlined that participants must be aware of their own responsibility for a proper pension, for example by immediately reporting relevant life events to their employer or provider.
In the opinion of the STAR, the current pensions registry was a very useful communications tool, and it recommended that its scope be extended, stressing that the uniform pensions statement (UPO) should be short and clear.
The organisation further indicated it was enthusiastic about the checklist for companies – developed by the Pensions Federation – and said it has asked the federation to also draw up such a list for "life phase-conscious" staff policy.
However, the STAR said it was not entirely happy with the areas covered by the starting letter distributed to new employees, preferring the new communication tool Pensions 1-2-3.
Pensions 1-2-3 – launched by the Pensions Federation and the Association of Insurers (VvV) last year - offers layered information on pensions, with different degrees of complexity.
The STAR made clear that the pension funds of Rabobank and chemicals company DSM Netherlands were good examples of schemes that put in a lot of effort in raising pensions awareness with their participants.
A survey by the organisation Wiser in Money Matters – sponsored by the government, the financial sector, pension funds and higher education - suggested that over 80% of workers still did not know much about their pension position, and that one-third of employees were concerned about the level of their future pension.
However, the level of awareness among employees receiving updates through their employers was 20% higher, according to the survey.
The government is expected to launch a legal framework for pensions communication soon, as part of the current pension reforms.