As a leading example, I'll discuss ABP, a Dutch 240 billion pension fund and one of the largest pension funds in the world.
Being fanatic blog readers and actuaries, you're probably 'in' for a teasing joke on Sylvester or 'New Years Eve'.
As you all know communication is key in the pension business. However, as pension investment results get more volatile and complex (in time) to explain, communication about pension issues becomes more and more Chinese for ordinary pension members.
The latest threat, cutting pension benefits, urges board members to develop themselves to a kind of 'five-legged sheep' .... The new 'normal' pension board member is undoubtedly the ideal combination of an actuary, accountant, investment specialist, communication expert, ICT specialist and - on top of - a keen psychologist.
Communication is a Profession
I'll give a short slightly exaggerated demonstration to all pension board members and actuaries of how difficult reading and understanding a well meant pension board message is, to an average pension member.
In order to 'save what can be saved' ABP's Vice-Chair Joop van Lunteren pleads for political help in ABP's 2011 Q3 Press Release.
Besides the question if a press release is indeed the right place for such a call, most pension members will have a hard time to understand what Mr. Van Lunteren wants so rightfully to express. For these pension members Mr. van Lunteren's message is more like Chinese...
ABP's Q3 Results: Cutting Pensions?
Now to more serious business... Altough ABP's Q3 results are indeed not splendid,
the call for a more long term sustainable valuation system that makes pension funds less dependent upon volatile interest rates makes sense!
Also, there no need for panic (direct cutting measures), as from the 2010 annual report we can find that the annual benefits payments summed up to around € 7.5 billion on a total of assets of around € 240 Billion. If ABP would be allowed to wait for the effects of taken measures en developing markets for another five years, a 10% cutting of benefits would only have an impact of around € 4 to 6 billion on the total assets of around € 240 mln.
More info about Cutting Pension rights on Actuary Info....
Happy Silvester and good luck ABP!
- ABP Q3 Press Release
- ABP Annual Report 2010
- Ming Imperial Fonts