Despite the wide range of communications tools now available to pension funds, a personal consultation with a specialist is the best way to increase pensions awareness among participants, Dutch industry experts have agreed.

Speaking at an IIR congress on pensions communication in Amsterdam, Stephan Vollenbroek, head of communications at MPD, the provider for the €4.2bn pension fund PNO Media, said “personal contact about pensions and financial planning makes the real difference compared with digital and written communication”.

He added that the provider had conducted almost 5,200 of these one-on-one meetings, and said they were very much appreciated by the participants.

Jan van der Wel, who has carried out many of the personal consultations for MPD, said: “The financial knowledge of participants is very poor on average, and they often fail to plan ahead.”

Wies Wiegman, manager of client relations at the €5.3bn pension fund for the hospitality and catering sector (Horeca & Catering), echoed his sentiments, saying: “Many of our participants are interested in this way of communication as well.”

Frans Griffioen, adviser on pensions communication at Griffioen Employee Benefits, added: “Participants don’t need general pension information, but they want to hear the specific details that affect them personally.”

His colleague Charles Beugelink, of communications firm Chardes, suggested that limited use by workers of their employers’ expensive digital pensions tools often did not justify the costs of these communication instruments.

Niels Kortleve, innovator at the €153bn pensions provider PGGM, stressed that pensions communication ought to begin by consulting participants on their expected quality of life after retirement. 

Also during the congress, Emile Soetendal, co-ordinator for pensions policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the the new legislation for pensions communication was still scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2015.

He added that the recent consultation on the concept legislation had generated 60 “mainly positive” responses from the sector, and that questions had chiefly been about feasibility, implementation costs and the interpretation of open norms.

He also suggested the national record of pension rights – the so-called Pensioenregister, covering first and second-pillar rights – would now be extended to the third pillar, as well as consider the effects of changing purchasing power and risks under bad, expected and favourable conditions.

Soetendal made clear that the extension – in three-year increments – was also meant to include an indication of the effects of personal choices and life events on the final pension.

But he stressed that details and planning still needed to be fleshed out.