Effective and inspiring communication with its participants is a crucial instrument for SNPS. According to Karin Wekema (49), communication advisor at Achmea Pension Services.
"At Achmea Pensioenservices we not only take care of the pension administration for various pension funds, we also provide them with all advice having to do with communication. I's my job to do that for the company pension funds of Shell and Ahold Delhaize. SNPS participants are more interested in their pension than average, especially when it comes to investments and the ensuing results. In my experience participants expect their employer Shell to take good care of everything. They have great confidence in SNPS: in 2020 they graded us with a 8.5; in 2021 it was no less than an 8.6.
Providing information with a maximum of clarity
It’s not a coincidence that awareness is one of the three communication principles in our communication policy, which we shape and implement in close consultation with SNPS communication manager Debby van der Voort. Another core principle is 'clarity': we want to inform members with a maximum of clarity about the Shell pension scheme and about how their pensions work. It is important that participants are in a position to make their own choices about their pensions where needed. Our third communication principle is 'perspective': we want to give members optimum insight into the results of SNPS and our progress in the area of socially responsible investing."
Keep people inspired
"Last year the homepage of the SNPS website had a makeover to make it more visually appealing and straightforward. With new pages like 'Grip on your pension', with infographics and a video. An online poll showed that our participants were positive about this. We regularly survey how participants feel about our communication. Think of follow-up campaigns, questionnaires and online polls. Just think about the time period when, at 58, participants have to choose between a fixed or a variable pension: we already explained a lot about variable pensions online, but now we will also provide more information about fixed pensions. What are the differences? The pros and cons? In 2022, we will be offering even more learning modules for the CVP portfolios, such as short videos, test questions via e-mail and webinars.
What I like about Shell is that they are very innovative, and, when it comes to SNPS, are really open to a different approach or new ways to communicate. If you always take the same old route, people will just switch off. It's important to keep finding new ways of communicating to inspire people to be more mindful of their pensions."
If anyone knows what's on the minds of Shell Pension participants, it's Wendy Brugman-Keulers. As a Pension Plan & Communication Advisor at Shell Pension she answers questions participants may have, explains matters and outlines pension choices.
"I work as a linking pin between Shell's HR department and the pension administration of our partner Achmea Pensioenservices. If pension regulations change, or there are legislative changes, this may have an impact on pension payments and entitlements of our participants. If necessary, we will make changes in our pension administration.
Explaining pension schemes
In my role as communications advisor, I also deal with how we should structure the legally required communication from the employer. In addition, we organise webinars and presentations, among other things. Before Covid-19, for example, I went to Pernis to explain to people working on the shop floor about how their pension scheme works and the choices that are available to them. Such as the opting for early retirement. In addition, it's often about what it means if you decide on a Collective Variable Pension (CVP) at 58. But I also get questions from young or new colleagues who have to choose one of the three risk profiles. An important decision, because it ultimately determines the possible outcome of your pension accrual. That is why we think it is very important that we inform the participants as accurately as possible about these kinds of options. So that they can make an informed choice."
Security and peace of mind
"When the coronavirus broke out and stock markets around the world fell very sharply, we did get some questions about the consequences for pensions. Would it all turn out to be a bit less? After all, the majority of our participants had opted for a variable scheme. But the good thing is that through the CVP we spread out our investment returns over a five-year period, which absorbs any fluctuations. Partly because of this, participants have been able to add to their pension four times over the past five years, even in a Covid-19 year. Only in the second year we had a small loss. I notice that this gives our participants security and peace of mind. Does worrying about falling stock prices keep you awake at night? Then you can opt for a fixed pension. We organise our communication in such a way that we guide participants in the best possible way."
Nicole van der Toorn
For the time being, Nicole van der Toorn is the only woman on the SNPS board, but that is definitely going to change, she explains. Besides her work as Indirect Tax Lead Global Customs & Excise, she has been a non-executive director at SNPS since 2016. Nicole focuses (on behalf of employees) on ESG, Communications and Governance & Suitability.
"When I started working for Shell in 2013, I felt it was important to develop myself as broadly as possible. So when I was asked to join the Accountability Body of SNPS, which had just been set up at the time, I immediately said yes. Although I was quite young, 31, to be involved with pensions. But it's not at all a boring topic! So when I was asked in 2016 for my current position within SNPS, I again told them yes.
With ESG, Communications and Governance & Suitability, I have some very exciting topics in my portfolio. For example, in 2021 we further advanced in terms of diversity, although I am still the only woman on the board... but we have now put on paper that we aim for a minimum of two women directors."
Think carefully about your investment profile
"Apart from being a board member, I am also a participant of SNPS. I have thought a lot about which investment profile is best suited for me. I am still relatively young, which is why I chose an offensive profile. Since I have so many years to go before I retire, that is the best choice. About seventy percent of SNPS members have chosen a neutral profile. Considering the population of SNPS, among which a considerable group of relatively young people, you would expect more participants to opt for an offensive profile. I would like to see all employees thinking carefully about their profile choice, because it really is of major importance for the final amount of your pension benefit."