Pensions sector must raise consumer knowledge - AFM
NETHERLANDS - The Dutch pensions communications regulator AFM will initiate a discussion with the pensions sector about the need to increase employees' pensions knowledge, as research found over 30% of pensioners are disappointed with the pensions income they receive at retirement.
"By encouraging workers to take notice of their individual pension situation in time, they will be able to make additional arrangements, in cases where there is a looming pension gap," said Harman Korte, managing director of the Financial Markets Authority.
"What's more, the image of the pensions sector will suffer and the public's support for the system will decrease if people are disappointed about the difference between their expected pension and their actual benefits," he explained.
"Together with the pension sector, we must find out how we can persuade the consumer not only to look at their individual pensions forecast, but also find out how we can make the available information as clear as possible," Korte added.
The AFM considers launch of the Pension Register - scheduled to start operating in 2011 - to be an important step, along with the Uniform Pension Statement (UPO) which has been mandatory since 2008.
In contrast to the UPO - which summarises a worker's pension forecast for the assets held at a single provider only - the Pension Register will show a person's combined pension rights.
Although Korte noted the AFM does not have a comprehensive solution to the problem, the regulator would like to see a warning added to the Pension Register's data, in cases where a consumer faces a potential pensions shortfall.
"That said, we must find out whether the present privacy legislation will allow such an option," he noted.
In the opinion of the AFM director, pensions knowledge should be taught in the education system.
The AFM research suggested that a steeply rising income, combined with average salary arrangements, is the most common reason why people overestimate their future pension pot.
The higher risk group for a lower than expected pension is the 600,000 self-employed workers - known in the Netherlands as ‘zzp'ers' - and 400,000 first-generation migrants who do not qualify for a full state pension (AOW), the regulator found.
The AFM also identified participants in defined contribution schemes and workers with a low pension build up as being likely to develop a pensions gap compared with their regular working income.
The same problem was found among divorcing couples who have split their pension rights, as well as people who have delayed payment of mortgage instalments, and who could face a doubling of their housing costs once they need to start paying it off.
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