Last week, the law on "Improving the Transparency of Old-Age Pensions" was passed by the German Bundestag in the second and third reading. In order for this law to enter into force, the positive vote of the Chamber of the Federal States, i.e. the German Federal Council, and the signature of the German Federal President are still required, if I remember my political science lessons at school correctly.
It was interesting to follow this week's discussion in the Committee for Labor and Social Affairs and the two debates at the first reading and before the vote yesterday evening: In addition to the publicity by the governing coalition and the broad support that this law has received, it and its current form were met with sharp criticism, especially from the opposition parties, even if it could mostly be interpreted as being constructive. The primary aim was to broaden the scope of the law and thus to further increase the transparency of old-age pension and to extend it to other forms of provision practiced in our country. The limits of such a project were also sounded out.
Here are a few examples:
- The social organizations note that 19% of the population is not familiar with the Internet or does not use it or are not interested in learning about it. Based on this fact, the challenge here is to find ways and means to reach special fringe groups in the population with the help of alternative media, e.g. the standard postal service.
- The group of state salaried employees should also be given the opportunity to obtain a digital overview of their pension provision activities.
- Other types of provision should also be considered, including pension schemes, civil servants' pensions, company pension commitments, bank, share and fund savings plans, additional pension schemes for federal and state employees, and this list could certainly be expanded.
In conclusion, perhaps a brief summary, so as not to go beyond the scope of this blog: by passing this law, the government has taken a first step in the right direction toward offering citizens more transparency regarding their old-age pensions, thus giving them the opportunity to optimize their pension provision. If one takes the above-mentioned objections seriously, one already has the agenda for the next few years, or rather, has the framework within which old-age provision providers, and thus also our company, should operate during this period in order to truly increase transparency regarding old-age pensions for all citizens and thus to achieve the long-term optimization of old-age pensions.
Here are a few ideas on the matter:
- Synchronize digital information and the paper version: anyone who does not use digital technology receives a summary overview on paper that simplifies the annual pension information provided by the German pension insurance scheme and extends it to other pension channels. One overview for all types of pension provisions, no paper flood of individual status reports.
- Create a barrier-free app for requesting digital pension overviews from the Central Office for Digital Insurance (ZfDR) that makes this information available to users in a simple visual form and, if necessary, also offers an audio presentation of the information.
- Offer an option to print a copy of the digital pension summary, upon request by the citizen, which can then be used as a basis for discussion during a pension consultation with a competent person.
If you consider this further, you will certainly find many good ideas for picking up the ball that the lawmakers have put into play and for resourcefully and successfully addressing this topic, in order to respond to the agenda of the critics.