News
26 October 2016

True to its proactive approach to pensions, for the third consecutive year, OGEO FUND commissioned an opinion survey from the IPSOS polling institute. Objective: to shore up our knowledge of pensions in Belgium and feed the social debate on the issue. In an approach similar to that of 2015, the survey focused on the latest proposals of the Federal Government regarding the pension reform.

To present this survey, OGEO FUND Pensions had invited Pension industry professionals to a seminar that took place at Square Brussels Meeting Centre on 14 October.

Nearly 150 participants accepted the invitation extended by OGEO FUND. They were greeted by comedian Bert Kruismans who moderated the morning's work. Following a speech by the Federal Minister for Pensions, Daniel Bacquelaine, these pension professionals were informed of the results of the opinion survey commissioned by OGEO FUND and conducted by IPSO.

A speech by Minister Bacquelaine

The Minister for Pensions of the Federal Government reminded the meeting that, without structural reforms, the sustainability of our pension system was threatened. For Daniel Bacquelaine "... the relationship between Belgians and their pensions has to change, mutate, notably through better coordination of the pension pillars, that is to say between distribution and capitalisation. The first pension pillar must be shored up by a second pillar that needs to be strengthened to achieve a replacement rate that is higher than is currently the case.”

Daniel Bacquelaine described the efforts made by the Government in favour of the additional pension for the three work arrangements (employees, entrepreneurs and civil servants). "Our responsibility is to preserve our social model and all measures must be taken if it shares this goal," he concluded.

The IPSOS survey

After the ministerial introduction, the results of the exclusive survey on pensions in Belgium were presented by Jean-Michel Lebrun, Director of the IPSOS polling institute. Here are the most significant elements.

With regard to the retirement arrangements:

  • 33% of non-pensioners plan to retire at age 65 and 28% from the age of 66.
  • 72% of non-pensioners would be willing to work beyond the age of 65.
  • The main factors that would give them an incentive to work longer: be at the same time a part-time employee and a pensioner, without tax penalty (53%) and financial needs (48%).
  • 74% are opposed to the increase in the statutory retirement age and 58% are against raising the age of early retirement.

With regard to the supplementary pension:

  • Only 44% have a supplementary pension scheme with their employer. This mostly concerns men, private sector employees and those residing in Flanders.
  • 63% are in favour of the mandatory constitution of a supplementary pension.

With regard to the current pension system and reforms undertaken by the Government:

  • 81% consider pension funding to be a priority.
  • 72% are in favour of the harmonisation of public/private/independent pension schemes.
  • 72% believe that their pension will not be enough to maintain a satisfactory standard of living.
  • The proposed reforms that find most favour among respondents are the part-time pension (85%) and consideration for arduous working conditions in the pension scheme (83%).

The wishes of the respondents:

  • Those who do not feel sufficiently informed regarding their future pensions would like to have more information in particular regarding the exact net amount received (85%) and the method of calculation of their state pension (59%);
  • The development of saving schemes as part of a supplementary pension fund financed by the employer and employee (42%) and reduced taxes in case of retirement after the statutory age (43%) remain the measures favoured to maintain the pension amount in future.

A panel discussion of leading experts

This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Lynn Wesenbeek, journalist, and Leonardo Sforza, Executive Director MSL Group, a panel discussion of top-flight experts:

  • Bruno Colmant, Head of Macro Research with Banque Degroof Petercam, member of the Central Economic Council of the Royal Academy of Belgium;
  • Gerhard Gieselink, Pension Supervision Coordinator, FSMA;
  • Jean Hindriks, Catholic University of Louvain, member of the Pension Academic Board;
  • Ivan Van de Cloot, Head Economist, Itinera Institute.

Each speaker was given ample opportunity to comment on the results of this survey and contribute their prospective vision, not only in terms of the reforms conducted by the Federal Government, but also in terms of reforms they advocate for pensions and the labour market. They also provided insight into the evolution of the macroeconomic framework and the future conditions of pension funding for both the public and private sectors, emphasising the major role that could potentially be played by supplementary pensions and pension funds.

To bring the Panel Discussion of Experts to a close, André Gilles, Chairman of the OGEO FUND Board, took to the floor to set out the vision of OGEO FUND on the matter and the responsibility exercised by the 5th largest Pension Funding Body in Belgium with regard to its seven affiliate companies and - above all - to 4,200 pensioners, present or future.

Before a humorous yet caustic conclusion by the most federalising of Flemish comedians, Bert Kruismans.

About the survey

OGEO FUND sets out to shore up our knowledge of pensions in Belgium and feed the social debate on the issue. This is what prompted OGEO FUND to commission this opinion survey.

The survey was conducted online by IPSOS among a representative sample of 1,070 persons of the resident population aged between 25 and 70 years. IPSOS guaranteed an optimum spectrum of respondents according to their gender, region of residence, marital status and employment status. At least 300 surveys were conducted with public employees.

About OGEO FUND

OGEO FUND manages the statutory pensions (first pillar) of public and para-public institutions (cities and municipalities, provinces, local authorities, CPAS, etc.). OGEO FUND was founded in July 2007 under the legal form of a Pension Funding Body (OFP), as introduced and regulated by the law of 27 October 2006. Since April 2008, OGEO FUND also offers interested affiliate companies the possibility of setting up a supplementary pension scheme (second pillar) for contractual staff and for salaried staff of the private sector. In eight years of existence, OGEO FUND has become the 5th largest Belgian OFP and reached one billion one hundred twenty-five million euros of assets under management, including € 620 million of assets in over-hedging. In 2015, OGEO FUND generated a financial return of 5.08%, against a sector average of 4.40%.

A report by RTC Liège was broadcast on 15 October 2016 (in French).

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