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German pension pioneer Bernhard Wiesner dies

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The European pension sector has lost one of its most active participants, an important promoter of cross-border pensions and a pioneer in modernising occupational pension systems: Bernhard Wiesner died last weekend aged 62 in an accident on his motorbike in Mallorca, his chosen retirement refuge.

In 2015 Wiesner announced his intention to retire after more than a quarter of a century in pensions.

He retained his position on the board of the German occupational pension association (aba), which he had held since 2003.

On behalf of aba, chairman Heribert Karch issued a condolence note on the “tragic accident” and expressed “deepest sympathy” to Wiesner’s family.

At the IPE Awards in Berlin in 2016, Wiesner was presented with the Gold Award for Outstanding Industry Contribution.

One judge commented at the time: “An impressive record and outstanding career, creating a pioneering role for the Bosch scheme in Germany and Europe.”

Wiesner was the brains behind restructuring the pension plans at the German Bosch Group by making pension payouts more flexible.

Following his studies in law, Wiesner started at Bosch in 1985 as an employment lawyer. In 1991 he went on to head the department for company benefit plans. In 2002 Bosch set up the first Pensionsfonds for a German industrial company and Wiesner became its first chief executive.

Apart from his roles at Bosch and aba, Wiesner also was the first employer representative on EIOPA’s Occupational Stakeholder Group (OPSG).

Wiesner was never shy to discuss his ideas in public. For IPE he was an important partner in understanding German pensions, promoting new concepts and cross-border pensions.

In his post-retirement interview with IPE at the end of 2015 he said: “A lot has already been done in Germany to bring occupational pensions up to date but there is still very much to do. I am an optimist and in this role I have contributed my fair share.”

IPE expresses deepest sympathies to Wiesner’s family, friends and colleagues.

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