GERMANY - More than one-third of polled pension representatives in German small and medium enterprises (SME) see 'medium' to 'very good' chances to increase participation in occupational pension schemes in their company, according to a Standard Life.

Among the 250 respondents from HR departments, 33.7% saw potential for a higher participation rate in occupational pension schemes. By comparison, only 5% had been as confident last year.

In companies not offering a pension scheme yet, 34.6% said they were at least thinking about introducing one over the medium term, up from 13.9% last year.

The most widely used form of occupational pension scheme in SMEs remains the insurance-based Direktversicherung (74.4%) and the Pensionskasse (64.8%). 

However, the other forms of occupational pension schemes including the Pensionsfonds are gaining ground as well, Standard Life noted.

Asked what features a pension solution must have, 80.9% of respondents cited transparency and safety of assets in case of insolvency.

Last year, only 67.2% put transparency at the top of the list, but insolvency protection had been of similar importance (91%).

Other points mentioned by a majority were annuities (75.4%) and flexibility of the product (68.9%).

For the first time since Standard Life began the survey three years ago, companies offering occupational pension solutions have replaced independent financial advisors and insurance brokers as the main contact point for SMEs regarding pensions.