New internal division
In an interview for the J&J Pension Fund OFP newsletter, Ron Verhulst and Kathelyne Nijs looked ahead to 2022. They discuss the various phases of the new pension system, the subsequent new internal allocation of tasks and the E+E work group that has been established for the transfer to the new pension system. Read more in the interview below.
New internal division due to changes to pension system
Fundamental changes are being made to the Dutch pension system and will generate a great deal of work. Thanks to the arrival of Kathelyne Nijs, Pension Manager Ron Verhulst will be able to focus his full attention on the consequences of these impending changes for J&J Pension Fund OFP. Kathelyne and Ron are both ready to embrace their new roles.
With major changes ahead, these are hectic times for the Dutch pension industry. The new Pension Agreement is expected to enter into force at the beginning of next year, which will also mark the start of a four-year transitional period. One change ensuing from the above will be a new pension scheme for every pension fund in the country, including J&J Pension Fund OFP. This will generate a great deal of additional work for everyone concerned.
Pension Manager Ron Verhulst comments as follows about the most important changes: "In the future, pensions will be linked to the economic climate more. In good times, they will increase; in bad times, they will decrease. This is an important change for J&J Pension Fund OFP. It is not currently possible to reduce pensions, because of which no pension amounts are lost. In bad times, the employer always takes up the slack make sure employees do not lose out. This will change in the future.
In the new pension system, participants will have more of a say about their pensions (about the investment risk they are willing to take, for example). We are still deliberating on the specifics of our new pension scheme and how to transition from the old pension scheme to the new one."
This isn't the time to sit back and do nothing
Ron will help everyone concerned transition from the old scheme to the new one, including employers, the central works council, the Board of Directors and the Pension Board. "Although many of the specifics of the new Act aren’t yet clear, this isn’t the time to sit back and do nothing. You might find you have run out of time if you do. The development of a new pension scheme will be a complex, time-consuming process and everyone’s interests will need to be weighed up carefully. This will be challenging and require numerous consultations."
A thorough approach
Ron explains that the overall process consists of four phases. "Firstly, the orientation phase, which we have already completed. In this phase, we created an E+E (Employer + Employee) working group and established working agreements. We are now in the middle of the analysis phase and have used the main outlines of the new Act - which are already known - to identify the various possibilities open to a new pension scheme. The communication side of things will need to be prepared in this phase too, because it’s important for everyone to understand which changes lie ahead.
The next phase is the negotiation phase, in which consultations between all the parties concerned, about the content of the new scheme and any compensation measures, will play a crucial role. We will then enter the implementation phase, in which the administration will be set up from scratch again. As you might imagine, this will need to be done very carefully and be right for everyone. We will test the new administration in detail. Naturally, communication will play an important role in this phase too, because each participant will need to know how his or her pension will be affected and be in a position to make a well-informed choice about his or her investment profile." Keep an eye on our website too.
Given the major changes we face and the time necessary to implement them correctly, it will be impossible for Ron to combine this with his current work for the pension fund. Obviously, it does have to be done. "But it’s too much for one person to do alone. So, I’m very pleased that Kathelyne has taken a lot of it off my hands. This allows me to focus fully on the tense times ahead."
"A big challenge"
Kathelyne calls her transfer to the pension fund a big challenge. She has worked for Johnson & Johnson since 2006. "I’ve always had financial roles, in a number of different departments. The most recent one was in the Research & Development Department, where I was responsible for financial analyses and reporting. The pension sector is completely new to me. This new role appeals to me because it will give me the opportunity to specialise and become an expert."
At the beginning of this year, Kathelyne transferred to J&J Pension Fund OFP and took over a lot of work from Ron. Much of her time is spent on financial administration activities and processing the changes that participants report. She also supports various committees and the Pension Council. In the future, Kathelyne’s support activities will be extended to include the pension fund’s management office too. "I really like the idea that I’m heading into territory that’s completely new to me. Fortunately, Ron will always be on hand to help if I have any questions. He’s a mine of knowledge and experience."
Curious about the last developments of the new pension agreement?
The E+E working group will inform you about the new pension scheme on a regular basis. You can find all E+E news items on the new pensions act at My Pension ('Mijn archief'). Log in at My pension.