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Germany must back pension reform – Allianz

GERMANY – Life insurer Allianz Lebensversicherungs has called for the German federal government to get behind its private pension reform.

Allianz Leben’s management board chairman Gerhard Rupprecht said the German government needs “to put much more commitment behind their own reform and make it clear to the general public that private provision was an urgent necessity”.

He also said that a move to full subsidy should be implemented with immediate effect to help boost the Riester market for personal pensions. “The current mini-premiums are preventing rapid accumulation of the necessary retirement provision,” he said.

And he called on the subsidy procedure to be simplified. “Every individual should receive the subsidy directly and transfer the full amount to their insurance company.”

For the first three months of 2003, Allianz Leben, part of financial services giant Allianz AG, saw a rise in new business of 36%. Despite the slow take-up of Riester personal pensions, named after labour minister Walter Riester, Allianz says it has a 20% share of the market.

“A total of nearly 623,000 Riester contracts has now been concluded at Allianz Leben,” it states.

And company pension provision developed “very positively”. In the first quarter of 2003, first payments were made on more than 66,000 contracts in the pension scheme, or Pensionskasse, taking the schemes total to more than 200,000 contracts.

“Overall, around 20,000 employers chose to set up a company pension provision from scratch or expand existing schemes in 2002.”

Michael Hessling, head of corporate business at the firm, said there was a lot of potential for growth in providing pensions to small and medium-sized businesses.

Allianz Leben added that its investment portfolio rose by 2.6% to 102.2 billion euros in 2002. It cut its exposure to equities “on account of increasing global economic risks”.

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