“You work in the pension sector? Wow, exciting...” Plenty of preconceived notions about working for a pension fund or administrator. Perhaps not all justified, as shown by a series of portraits about people who work there on a daily basis. People like Senior pension spokesman Fabian Schumans. “Working on your pension is making choices for your own happiness and that is never boring.”
What does a Senior pension spokesman do for an administrator like APG?
“I have individual conversations with participants that are in complex pension situations. I create and lead workshops and presentations for participants and courses for employees and pension ambassadors. The objective is to increase people’s knowledge about pensions and to enable employers to pick up their role.”
You are really out in the field, speaking directly with the pension participant. What is that like?
“As a pension administrator, APG has contact with the participant on several levels. For example, through our client contact center where every kind of question is asked. The conversations I have are about more complex situations, such as the threat of disability, an escalating labor dispute, or people who are terminally ill.”
Conversations in which emotions probably run high.
“I always reassure people at the beginning of a conversation. They talk about their pension so rarely that it often makes them nervous, insecure. And for people who might lose money, yes, some emotions come into play. And I give them room for that. It can also get pretty intense, people sometimes start cursing, they threaten to drive their car through our wall, or they might feel devastated, because they don’t know what to do.”
How do you deal with that?
“To tell you the truth, I’d rather deal with those emotions and questions than with people who stay flat. I have often heard terms like pension crooks and pension mafia. But that’s okay. That is when questions arise and I can go into it in-depth, answer questions and really deal with a situation.”
What qualities do you need for a job like yours?
“You can’t get blown away by anger and you need to approach people without prejudice. I always talk to people at eye level and sense what is going on when I am standing in front of a group.”
It is kind of a luxury to have a conversation with a pension spokesman. When exactly do you take action?
“There are twelve of us pension spokesmen for ABP and for 1.3 million active pension participants that is not very many, so we don’t promote it. We have Relationship managers at APG who will bring us in for employers at the right time.”
You talk about pensions all day long; how do you keep it up?
“Oh, that’s not very difficult. Pensions are not boring at all. They are constantly in the news and they are constantly developing. What I’m doing now is really my passion, so I can keep talking about it for a long time.”
Passion and pension in one sentence: that something you will have to explain.
“If I can solve misunderstandings, that makes me smile. That also happens when I can help people get a grip on making the right choices or when I hear that after they talked to me they realized they are in such a good position that they can retire sooner. And that inspires me to do my best for the participant every single day.”