Next level in sophisticated pensions communication
Denmark’s PensionsInfo became the first comprehensive online pensions service in the world that allows any member of any pension scheme in Denmark to check a whole range of information on their pension. This is a truly innovative development that is taking the principles of transparency, communication and education of pension schemes in Europe and beyond to a whole new level.
A more than worthy winner of IPE’s highly coveted Award for Outstanding Industry Contribution in 2011, the PensionsInfo online portal is setting new standards in pensions administration and ensuring pensions are a product and solution that anybody can and should be able to access and understand.
Originally launched in 1999 but redesigned to be launched again in 2007, PensionsInfo is a unique collaboration between pension funds, life insurance companies, banks, savings banks, public authorities and the majority of private pensions providers across Denmark which joined forces to ensure the accurate, transparent and timely dissemination of pensions data in the most used medium of the 21st century: the internet. Earlier this year, the number of users of this unique and informative service hit half a million. Not bad for a small country.
A secure site, PensionsInfo offers an extensive overview of an individual’s pensions, including an interactive retirement calculator that can be used to obtain an almost complete overview of pension income in retirement. A deferred member of a number of schemes can gather all the schemes in one member account, enabling a complete overview of all pensions holdings to gain an idea of the overall combined income to be expected in retirement.
Here, There And Everywhere
But PensionsInfo goes beyond providing comprehensive information about retirement income. It is a useful tool for checking other social benefits that may accrue through a pensions provider in the workplace. PensionsInfo is ideal if you lose the ability to work or become seriously ill, as it provides information on what you may or may not be entitled to as part of an early retirement or disability benefit.
Since it is a partnership between an extensive number of pensions industry firms, service providers and pension schemes themselves, PensionsInfo is available as a clear link on the websites of the participating entities, many of which have dedicated pages on their own sites. Most users actually access PensionsInfo from their bank or other pensions source in the partnership.
PensionsInfo is a fully functional site and allows you to keep a full track of your pensions holdings digitally and in physical documented form via a print facility. By tracking usage, PensionsInfo confirms that earlier this year it knows some 235,000 subscribers, almost half of the total current membership, chose to print a report of all their pension information last year, underlining the importance and wealth of information the online portal provides. PensionsInfo believes that this is a very useful tool for pension scheme members to get advice, since a comprehensive dataset can be collected in one go. Moreover, it allows members to keep documented records of the pensions and related pay-outs for the benefit of dependents and other family members or beneficiaries.
The idea to develop PensionsInfo grew largely from the ever more complex industry the pensions sector was becoming, especially at client- facing level, as the number of defined contribution schemes increased to compensate for the decline in defined benefit plans and national governments began to review their expensive and burdensome pay-as-you go systems.
At the time PensionsInfo was conceived, the rationale behind it considered the following factors relating specifically to the overall composition of the Danish pensions system – one usually still described as a typical three-pillar industry:
• Pillar one. This involves a universal means-tested PAYG tax-financed state old age pension and the DC funded ATP supplementary scheme, both covering over 4m people in the overall Danish workforce.
• Pillar two. This covers the occupational pensions sector and, at the time of the development of PensionsInfo, included 2.7m DC plans, active and dormant, of single and multi-employer arrangements and Danish occupational DB schemes, the vast majority of which were already closed to new entrants.
• Pillar three. This covers the 600,000 people contributing to DC funded plans run by life insurance companies and the 900,000 saving for retirement in DC plans offered by banks.
Between the three pillars the following factors underlined the complexity of the Danish system and justified the rationale behind the concept for the extensive partnership to develop PensionsInfo:
• There were 10m old age retirement entitlements of one sort or another on top of the average of almost four different pensions entitlements per adult;
• There were multiple sources of pensions and retirement income;
• Complex means-testing rules for the state first pillar pension;
• Information costs were becoming prohibitive; • Interest in pensions and the desire to keep track of pensions savings was still considered too low. Armed with this knowledge, when it was first launched, PensionsInfo’s remit was to:
• Reduce the cost of pensions information for individuals and their advisers when reviewing their pensions position;
• Provide a highly secure central portal at any time of the day every day of the year where individuals could consider the consequences of different decisions about the accumulation of their pension;
• Enable individuals to make informed choices and view standardised and consolidated pensions information provided online by their pension scheme or other pensions provider.