“It is a pity that nothing has been organized for the self-employed”

Published on: 3 May 2023

All eyes will be on the renewed pension system in 2023 as well. How are we doing in the run-up to that transition? And what challenges will the transition entail for the coming years? In the context of the APG annual report, four people – from inside and outside APG – will consider these questions in the coming weeks. Today: Peter Gortzak, director of policy implementation at APG.

The renewed pension system is still a “solidarity system.” Are you pleased about that?
“Well, I am obviously pleased that we can still spread the risks as it means that the renewed system can generate stable pensions. This is something our pensioners really want. I sometimes worry that people are far too blasé about individual pension sums. It can be a handy way of explaining things: you can show that a specific amount of pension has been reserved for the person concerned. But this choice of words can give people certain expectations. If you stress the word ‘personal’, people could be forgiven for thinking that this amount actually belongs to them, that it becomes part of their estate when they die, and their heirs will inherit it. That just isn’t the case. The pension will remain a group scheme.”

Has the renewed system become too complicated?
“We’ll have to wait and see. The criticism of the current system has always been that it isn’t transparent enough, and that managers hidden away in offices make decisions that have a huge impact on people’s pensions. So the renewed system had to be more transparent, with a greater say for the participants. This means that funds have to conduct risk attitude surveys among their participants, including per age group, and decide how the results affect the investments. I can’t help wondering how this will pan out. Individuals are swayed by the issues of the day; they may be inclined to take more risks on a sunny day than on a gray Monday morning. I would rather that the people who make these decisions think about them carefully, have more experience with investment risks, and are able to predict what will give the best pension returns for certain groups of participants.”

Are there any other buts and maybes?
“Personally, I find it a great pity that nothing has been organized for the self-employed. After all, we have around 1.2 million of them. We started building a new pension system because the current system no longer caters to the everchanging job market. Work has become more flexible, people don’t stay with the same employer for 40 years anymore, and a lot of people go selfemployed. This renewed pension system has nothing to offer them. If you don’t have an employer, you don’t have a group pension. But people just don’t seem to be concerned. Employers save wage costs by hiring self-employed professionals because then they don’t have to pay the pension contribution. But we’ll still have to pay in the end. Look at the healthcare system: a self-employed professional who later only gets a state pension won’t be contributing to their healthcare costs. The government will ultimately foot the bill.”