SEB: Public second pillar pension fund awareness still weak

Abolition of the second pillar of pension (illustrative) Source: Caro/Preuss/Scanpix

Approximately half of those collecting their pension in the second pillar in Estonia do not know which pension fund their monthly pension investment is directed to, and only 7 percent can put a figure to the annual return of their pension fund, according to a pension survey carried out by SEB.

At the same time, 68 percent of respondents claimed they had checked within the last year how much money they have collected in the second pension pillar, the bank said, meaning nearly one third were unaware.

Via its surveys, SEB has been mapping the pension-related awareness among Estonian residents for several years, and the bank said it is concerned that, ahead of the government bill to make the second pension pillar voluntary, people's awareness of the pension system is still too low.

"The investment that a person collecting in the second pillar makes to their pension fund every month is the person's own personal property and income during retirement depends a lot on whether the person is in the most suitable pension fund and whether the right objective as to the size of the future pension has been set when collecting pension," Triin Messimas, head of the Estonian branch of SEB Life and Pension Baltic, said, according to BNS.

"People are usually concerned about whether their bank account will have enough money to cover the next month, but the long-term perspective is not seen, and the care shown when it comes to one's long-term financial investment is insignificant," Messimas added. 

"Lack of awareness of the current status of people's second pillar pension fund will definitely not benefit consumers. The average data in Estonia is often published the media, with a widespread belief that people have accumulated very little money with which to finance a retirement, or that the much talked about negative return will also affect pension investments," Messimas continued. 

"Just as every pension collector is unique in terms of income and accumulation period, so are their personal investment performance and volume of assets. Not every person can make the right decision for themselves on the basis of the Estonian average," she added. 

The bank said that, in light of the pension reform, people should definitely first review the current state of their second pillar accumulation. They should then think critically about the kind of method they wish to use to help secure their future; how much knowledge they have to make investment decisions themselves, what the costs are, or whether there are other alternatives to increase their pension in the future. 

According to SEB's survey, over half of the respondents found that they need to accumulate additional resources to secure their future, and only 11 percent said they would use the disbursed money collected in the second pillar to satisfy daily living needs. 

Under the government's proposed reforms, which were a central plank of the Isamaa party's pre-election manifesto ahead of the March general election, only the entire lump sum can be withdrawn from the second pillar, and once people have left the scheme, they cannot then rejoin it for 10 years.  

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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