The €48bn metal scheme PMT is to launch an online “participants panel” following a steep fall in trust as a result of its 6.3% rights cut last year.

The online panel will provide the pension fund with participants’ opinions as well as feedback for improvements on communication, according to Annemieke Biesheuvel, PMT’s head of communications.

Speaking during the IIR congress on pensions communication in Amsterdam, she conceded that last year’s rights cut had been “disastrous” for the scheme’s image.

“Participants’ confidence in PMT is now lower than their faith in insurers and banks,” she said. “The results of the panel could help us to win back our participants’ trust and loyalty.”

Biesheuvel stressed that the pension fund was reluctant to apply a second rights cut.

“The applied discount triggered so much emotion that we sometimes had to hire security during meetings with pensioners,” she said. “Many participants and pensioners consider us as thieves.”

PMT’s funding was 0.2 percentage points short of the required minimum at year-end.

However, the pension fund believes it should be allowed to forgo a second cut, due to additional recovery measures and the fact its funding increased to the required level in January.

According to Biesheuvel, several surveys have suggested PMT’s participants need “verifiable transparency”, additional information about the pension plan and the specific effects of the rights cut.

They also demand more information on pensions from their employer, she added.

She said 1,000 participants would be asked to discuss specific subjects on the online panel, which will be incorporated into PMT’s website.

PMT – the largest pension fund in the market sector – is responsible for the pensions of more than 400,000 active participants and deferred members, as well as more than 172,000 pensioners. 

The €32bn metal scheme PME is also planning to set up a similar panel, meant to increase pensions awareness, according to Gerda Smits, the pension fund’s spokeswoman.

She said the plan would be developed jointly with PMT to save costs.

However, she stressed that the idea was still in its infancy.

Last year, PME had to cut pension rights by 5.1%, and it announced a second discount of 0.5% earlier this week, in order to achieve its required funding level.

PMT and PME are both serviced by the €90bn pensions provider and asset manager MN.