Pensioner Aad van der Kaaden talking with SSPF board member Fridoline van Binsbergen-Stierum

"How will the Future Pensions Act affect my pension?"

double interview

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Summer 2023. The Future Pensions Act (Wtp) made it through the Dutch Senate. But what does this landslide in pension land mean for all the SSPF participants? Aad van der Kaaden is a pensioner of SSPF and a member of (the editorial staff of) Voeks, the representative body of former Shell employees in the Netherlands. Aad speaks with SSPF board member Fridoline van Binsbergen-Stierum.

Aad: "Why are they changing the Dutch pension system?"

Fridoline: "There are several reasons why the government needed to consider a new pension system. One of the major reasons is that the current system is increasingly ill-suited to our rapidly changing labour market. People are changing jobs at a faster rate, more are self-employed or taking career breaks. Hence we need more flexibility.  Also, we are getting older and older in the Netherlands. As a result, the current system is becoming unaffordable. On top of that, the new system will be both more personal and transparent - so as an individual, you will soon be better able to see how your pension is being accrued."

Aad: "What will change for participants and former employees, how will things work out in the new system?"

Fridoline: "The pension of every participant is converted into a personal pension pot. In principle, this applies to everyone. Every participant will soon be able to see how much capital they have in their personal pension pot.

Aad: "Lending an ear to my fellow pensioners, some are not happy with the transformation. Why do we have to go along with it anyway?"

Fridoline: "I can truly imagine that there are some participants who have mixed feelings about it all. The government is weighing up not only the interests of current pensioners but also those of future generations. As a Shell pension fund, we have to comply with the new legislation. But I well understand these feelings."

“Why do pensioners have to go along with the new legislation?”

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Aad van der Kaaden

The transition to the new scheme needs to be well balanced. In it, we way up the interests of the various groups in a balanced way. If it seems to turn out less favourable for a particular group, the law offers the possibility of not transferring the pension to the new scheme. That is up to Shell Netherlands and the Central Works Council (COR). They are still discussing this; no decision has been taken yet."

Aad: "As former Shell employees, we can give advice to Shell Netherlands and the COR through the Voeks' Hearing Rights Committee. What are the employer and the pension fund doing to maintain the value of pensions?"

About the new pension

Why is a new pension law necessary?

There are several reasons why the Future Pensions Act (Wtp) is needed. Mainly: we are getting older and the labour market is changing. As we get older, a longer pension benefit per person is needed. And because of ageing, we have more over-65s against fewer and fewer working people. So, we have to pay the increasing amount needed to pay for pensions with a smaller group of working people. On top of that, the new pension scheme is better aligned with the changing labour market. People change employers more often and there are more self-employed workers. This makes it even more important to be responsible for, and understand, your own pension.

What will change and what will remain the same?

One of the key changes is the introduction of a personal pension pot that grows if investments go well. But which may also decrease if investments are not doing so well. Another important aspect is that the survivor's pension remains, but is due to change. The survivor's pension differs between the various schemes. It will now be identical for all schemes. The new pension act provides more transparency and freedom of choice. As a participant, you can follow how your own pension pot develops. And choose, for instance, the risk you want to take with the investments of your contributions.

The basic principles of pensions in the Netherlands remain the same. Both the employer and employee deposit contributions, pension providers invest that money and pay out pension benefits

For which people will things be changing (SNPS or SSPF)?

Did you join Shell on or after 1 July 2013? Then SNPS manages your pension. SNPS already operates largely according to the principles of the new pension scheme.

Did you join Shell before 1 July 2013? Then SSPF will arrange your pension. The law states that all accrued pensions must be transferred to the new scheme. This also applies to your pension with SSPF. The new scheme must be well balanced. We way up the interests of the various groups in a balanced way. If it seems to turn out less favourable for a particular group, the law offers the possibility of not transferring the pension to the new scheme. That is up to Shell Netherlands and the Central Works Council (COR). They are still discussing this.

Fridoline: "As soon as Shell Netherlands and the COR have reached a decision, their proposal will be submitted to the SSPF board. We review the proposal and carefully assess the various interests. Is the new scheme well balanced for all our participants groups? And is the proposal feasible? Not only the board is involved in this major transition process, but other parties such as the Supervisory Board and the Accountability Body are also involved."

Aad: "At Shell there are people with long standing careers. They wish for the security that Shell has always provided. I always state that achieving a straight A is good, but sustaining it is what truly matters!”

Fridoline: "As a board member, I feel I am implementing Shell's ambition to continue to take good care of you after your career with Shell. I think it's important that we maintain the trust of our participants, which is something we are very protective of as a board and Shell Pension. We provide security as soon as this is possible. By open and transparent communication with our participants, we try to live up to and maintain this trust."

Fridoline: "And, a counter question I want to ask you: do you have any issues of which you say: board, consider that in terms of communication in order to continue to live up to that trust?"

“I well understand these feelings” 

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Fridoline van Binsbergen-Stierum

Aad: "The way Shell Pension communicates with participants is top notch and correct, you know exactly where you stand. I believe the board should keep repeating information, with the updated messages of that moment."

Fridoline: "I fully understand that and it will remain our focus to continue to provide optimal communication for our participants. Let me ask you Aad, I just heard in your introduction that you have switched to teaching Dutch, how come you decided to make this career change?"

Aad: "During my time at Shell, I was able to make use of a scheme that allowed me to study alongside my job. I worked four nine-hour days and, in a couple of years, managed to get my second-degree teaching qualification in Dutch. I have always loved being a teacher. And you too are in education, in addition to your position on the board?"

Fridoline: "Yes, that's quite right. So are we both fascinated by the world of education as well as pensions. Wonderful common ground.”

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Board member  Fridoline van Binsbergen-Stierum

Year of birth: 1967
Hometown: The Hague
Board member of SSPF since: 2020
Ancillary positions: Member of the Provisum Supervisory Board, non-executive board member for Stichting PME Pensioenfonds, graduation supervisor at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, member of the Advisory Board of the Master's degree programme Integral Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences

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Aad van der Kaaden pensioner since 2015

Year of birth: 1955
Hometown: Hoogeveen
Employed by Shell/NAM: 1977 to 2005
Former position: Digitising company archives
Current work: Part-time teacher of Dutch at IVIO/ Wereldschool B.V. institute, editor Voeksnieuws