GERMANY – The main themes of the German pension industry body ABA’s conference in Bonn were to encourage German companies to offer pension schemes - and dispel criticism that the process is too complicated.

Said ABA chief Boy-Juergen Andresen: “Employers complain that the legal framework is too complicated, that there are five different types of pension promise that they can establish. We are trying to encourage a positive attitude and increase the number of companies that offer a pension scheme.”

Today saw the second and last day of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer betriebliche Altersversorgung’s annual conference in Bonn.

At present only around 52% of employees have access to a company pension scheme. Also, of a German pensioner’s total retirement income, only an average 5% is provided through a company pension scheme, while around 70% is funded by the generous state pension.

The government is going to reduce its pay-as-you-go payout as is it no longer financial viable in the long term, and therefore more company pension schemes are required.

The five types of pension promises and forthcoming legal implications were discussed. Peter Scherkamp, head of finance strategy at the pension fund of industrial group Siemens, said: “These are company schemes, so you should consider what the company needs when looking at the opportunities.”

Scherkamp explained Siemens’ example of a trust agreement. Martina Neise of DaimlerChrysler explained the carmaker’s new capital scheme, and Bernhard Wiesner put forward the side of Bosch – the first industrial corporate to establish the new pensionfond.

The ABA is seeking to persuade the government to reduce the contribution amount of the new pensionsfonds. At the moment the funds contribute 100%, but with guarantees in place in the form of the company, there is no need for this to be so high, Andresen believes.

The ABA has asked the government to cut this to 20% and Andresen is optimistic that the government will agree.