Demographic Change and Pension Plans

The demographic change causes multiple challenges for companies. This can lead to issues such as candidate shortages for hirings, age structure within teams, knowledge about most advance technology or workforce cost structure due to salary increases over decades.

 

We are happy to discuss with you and support you on all above areas but one specific subject we want to focus on in this section in more detail because of the specific big risks and difficult change management requirements – the pension plans.

Do you have a pension plan in your company and the cost is increasing in your balance sheet? The age structure in your organization looks like a pyramid on its head? Do you have more pensioners than active employees or you bear the risk that this could become reality soon? Do you have a defined benefits pension plan in your company and your CFO explains that the returns on assets are decreasing due to low interests rates and the discount rate for accruals is decreasing and therefore the cost increasing? Your organisation grew because of acquisitions, employees brought different pension plans with them and now you ask yourself whether it could make sense to harmonize the different schemes?

 

Questions like this occur in many companies these years. We help you analysing the situation, develop alternatives and support you in the implementation.

Understanding the status quo

  • What type of pension plans do you have in your company (defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans, cash balance plans, different ones per group of employee…)?
  • How do you manage and execute the plans, what is the set up (pension fund, CTA…)?
  • How big is the risk and the financial challenge?
  • What other factors you need to consider (talent acquisition, retention, morale and motivation, works council…)?
  • What do you want to achieve (minimising the risks, reducing the risks, improving the attractiveness as an employer, harmonization of plans…)?

If you are having defined benefit plans you need to consider the most relevant factors influencing the plans:

  • life expectancy
  • salary increases
  • pension increases
  • discount rate
  • return on assets
  • cost of pension insurance

Legal environment

  • law (significant hurdles by law in many countries for any changes to pension plans)
  • jurisdiction (important case law – significant protection of pension entitlements for employees and pensioners, high boundaries for any changes to plans and structures)
  • works agreements / tariff agreements
  • employment contracts

Developing alternatives for solutions

Dependent on the specific goals for your organisation there can be plenty of alternative solutions to address the situation. We are happy to support you in developing the alternatives, assess the degree of risk, do-ability and impact.

Our experience tells us that if you are planning changes to your pension plans then you are addressing one of the most sacred subjects for employees and employee representative bodies. Therefore a very thorough planning and most professional handling of the development, consultation and implementation is critical for the success.

That leads to significant challenges for the leadership team in your organisation and the change management.

We are gladly working with you on the planning, consultation and implementation. Probably you are not just looking for a smart consultant in the background who knows the theory but you are looking for a true partner with experience in this most sensitive subject and who is willing to work with you and taking responsibility in the implementation.

This subject is being led within metakomm by Christoph Grandpierre.

Christoph was Managing Director and Head of HR at IBM Germany leading the biggest change project for the pension plans in the company. They were modernising the whole structure of pension plans making it sustainable and future proof. As part of the project employees where moving on a voluntary basis from closed defined benefit plans to cash balance plans, changing also the pension entry age according to state pension entry age of 67 and implementing private pension schemes with external providers for new employees.

You can benefit from his experience in analysing, developing, planning, negotiating with employee representatives, change management and leadership.

We look forward to your contact.