GERMANY - German companies are convinced that interest in occupational pensions among their employees will not grow, according to a recent poll.

Only 26.6% of the 279 company representatives surveyed said they see more interest in occupational pensions among employees in the next five years.

Almost 75% said they see "no" or "very low" chances to increase the membership in their company's pension scheme among existing employers or introduce a scheme in the near future.

In the poll commissioned by Standard Life, at least 218 companies, made up in the main of large firms, already had a pension scheme in place while 61 did not.

Around 90% of employees in large companies are covered by an occupational pension scheme, the research found, while the figure for smaller companies is only 10%.

It is also these smaller companies which are the most sceptical about a growth in interest in occupational pension provision.

Only 12.2% of the polled decision-makers on company pensions at smaller companies say there will be an increase in interest while half of those questioned said it will remain the same - which in many cases means there is not enough interest to ask the employer to introduce a scheme.

These latest findings appear to contradict the expectations of the pension industry as they believe occupational pensions are still a future growth market, Standard Life noted in its study report.

However, Standard Life also pointed out that interest in occupational pensions was pushed between 2002 and 2005 when the government introduced a series of incentives, the first of which was the right for employees to demand a pension plan from their employer.

Indeed, the poll showed that employers would like to see more state subsidies for occupational pensions and tax incentives.

Furthermore, those companies which have not introduced a pension plan yet would like to see simpler and more easily understandable products with a lower administrative burden.

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by Ergo insurance shows that fewer and fewer Germans believe in equity funds as good retirement provision. They increasingly put safety over return.

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