Germany is considering the introduction of a pension information service for its citizens to include data from all three pillars.
However, industry experts were sceptical about the feasibility of such a project, as was evident at this year’s occupational pension conference hosted by German economic daily newspaper Handelsblatt in Berlin.
The introduction of cross-pillar information provision was part of the coalition agreement between conservative party CDU/CSU and social democratic SPD, which was signed yesterday after six months of government negotiations.
“We will introduce a cross-pillar pension information [service] which is to offer citizens information on their individual old-age coverage from all three pillars and make them aware of possible needs to take action,” the agreement reads.
The government wants to place this information pooling “under federal supervision”.
Christian Röhle, head of Pensionskassen management at Hoechst Group, noted in his presentation at the conference that the government’s brief raised several questions.
“It is not clear what is part of the personal retirement provision and what is not,” he said.
Röhle added that the government would have to clarify what information can be gathered by whom, and who was responsible for passing this information to citizens.
He urged the government to “bring all stakeholders on board” in such a project to avoid “endangering provider efficiency”. Some stakeholders feared they could be held liable for any information divulged or for the pension levels extrapolated from the information.
Röhle added: “Best-practice examples from other countries do not fit the German model unreservedly, therefore there should be no copy-paste.”
Learning from other countries
Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden already have pension “dashboards” available to individuals to allow them to collate their savings. In the UK, pensions minister Guy Opperman last year promised government support for an industry dashboard proposal.
In Germany, a facility for collating pension information was part of the new legal pension framework, the Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz (BRSG), passed last year under the old government. However, no promises had been made until the new government signed its coalition agreement.
In December consultancy Aon was tasked with researching best-practice examples from other countries, how well they matched Germany’s pension system, and the domestic legal framework for gathering and pooling the data.
A report is to be delivered to the government by the end of the summer and the results are scheduled to be published by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the European project for a pension tracking service is still in the planning phase, conference delegates heard.
No grants for the pilot stage – which was tendered in April last year – were awarded yet, but a conference participant in Berlin hinted that the European Commission had “already made its choice”.