GERMANY - Fidelity is planning to introduce a new pension plan for its staff in Germany next year, with some mandatory elements the company is promoting across the country.

The new scheme for all German staff includes an automatic conversion of part of the gross salary into contributions, with employees having to opt-out of the 'Entgeltumwandlung' if they do not want it.

According to a Fidelity poll, only 38% of German employees are saving for retirement via an occupational pension plans, and, on average, only 4% of the pension comes from second-pillar schemes.

Klaus Mössle, head of institutional business at Fidelity in Germany, said: "Our most recent poll has clearly shown that only one in 10 is explicitly deciding against joining a company pension plan.

"This must mean that, in case of an automatic conversion, only a minority will choose to opt-out."

The company said it wanted to achieve a good pension coverage for its entire staff via this "gentle push" to join the defined contribution scheme.

It also said it planned to introduce a similar model across the country to boost participation in the second pillar.

In other news, delegates at Towers Watson's occupational pension conference in Frankfurt last week stressed the importance of occupational pensions and recruiting specialists, which will become "scarce", given demographic changes.

Thomas Jasper, head of occupational pensions consulting at Towers Watson Germany, said pension plans needed to be set up flexibly to allow for individual retirement plans at different points in time depending on an employee's willingness and ability to work longer.

Hans Melchiors, board member at the German Pensions-Sicherungs-Verein (PSV), which is taking on pension liabilities of insolvent companies, said companies needed to introduce "occupational pension service platforms" to inform and advise employees, as well as to coordinate pension-related processes in the company.

At Deutsche Bank, which purchased the regional Berliner Bank in 2007, 98% of employees accepted the new joint pension plan.

According to Christina Meixner, senior benefits expert at Deutsche Bank, this was made possible through good information and consultancy policy for employees regarding the pension scheme.