“When an employer wants to take action, that’s when I get excited”

“When an employer wants to take action, that’s when I get excited”

Published on: 12 March 2021

The people behind your pension

 

“You work in the pension sector? Wow, fun...” There are a lot of preconceived notions about working for a pension fund or administrator. They may not all be correct, as shown in a series of portraits of the people that work there every day. People like relations manager Marco Alberts: I get to advise people from my heart.”

 

What does your job entail?

“Employers have a responsible role by virtue of legislation for the increasing of pension awareness of their employees and for improving pension communication. They are also the first point of contact for their employees with pension issues. I help them to take on that role and carry it out. This generally means that I make employers aware of the law that applies to them and explain to them what it means. This makes me a main link between the pension funds and the employers.”

 

Do you visit the employers all the time?

“No, not at all. Relations managers visit employers once or twice a year, depending on the need, and discuss things like the developments of the secondary labor conditions as they relate to pensions.”

 

And that makes you happy?  

“It triggers me to help that employer take action.”

 

Because they would rather not?

“What I’m doing now is something we didn’t dare to do in the past: I really make the employers aware of their responsibility. And I must say, it is quite successful. And that is good, because in the Netherlands, when people hear the word pension, they immediately way that it’s far in the future. ‘We don’t have to think about that yet’, is a common reaction. I then explain that it is not only about old age pension, but that the pension fund will also provide an income for survivors if you die, as well as an income in the event of disability. And for me, the challenge is to make the employees understand that. And I need the employer for that. He or she must understand the importance of the financial fitness of the employees.”

 

And how exactly do you help the employer?

“There are various tools, but I don’t pull all kinds of tricks out of a hat, just to give out some random stuff. First, I find out exactly what the employer wants to do. Then I customize those wishes and needs. For example, there is pension academy where we polish up how much the HR department knows about pensions.”

 

Are there any employers that don’t want your advice?

“Not many, but there are some employers that send their employees directly to the pension fund. And if they don’t want our services, that’s fine. Then we’re done. This partnership has to come from both sides. That may sound harsh, but that’s the way it is.”

 

Is this job challenging enough for you?

“Pension is a complex matter. That is why participants often give up. Our challenge is to make pensions accessible. That makes it easier for both the employer and the employee to take action. I’m kind of a guide for that. The moment an employer understands the importance of my advice and asks me to help them, is one of the best aspects of my job, as far as I’m concerned. That’s when I get excited.”

You used to work for commercial insurances, how did you end up here?

“Where I worked before, targets and return were very important. The people not so much. And that didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want to recommend or sell anything if I knew it didn’t suit that person. As a relations manager, I get to advise people from my heart.”

 

What did you bring with you from that commercial experience?

“I’m clear; I tell things as they are. I directly make people aware of their responsibility and at the same time show them the benefits of their effort; what the return is. And then a conversation naturally ensues.”  

 

Do you really make a difference for people?

“Look, collection the premium and paying out pensions is not that exciting. Aside from the fact that we are investing billions of Euros. But what I do is to create pension awareness. I show people that once you’re dead, you simply cannot provide a pension for your surviving family members. And that you’ll miss out on a lot of money if you don’t arrange a disability pension in advance and you are suddenly injured in the workplace. And if you find out that your pension is insufficient once you’re retired, there is nothing we can do about it then. When that penny drops for the employer, I can see the wheels turning and I recognize the beginning of pension awareness. And this is beneficial for those employees because they will then be given that information.”

 

Do people avoid you at parties when they hear what you do for a living?  

“No, on the contrary. I always get a lot of questions. People want to know what happens to their money or why we don’t do indexing. How is it possible that you may have decrease people’s pensions, is another question I often hear. Or they want to know why there is going to be a new pension contract.”

 

And what do you tell them?

“People often know that ABP has 493 billion. That’s a tremendous amount of money. But what they don’t realize is that if everyone continues to live longer, we will not be able to pay their pensions out of that pension pot. At some point it will run out. Answering all those questions is kind of a sport for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be a relations manager.”