Germany’s corporate pension funds oppose latest reform proposal

first_imgThe German association of corporate pension funds (VFPK) has rejected a recommendation that the government’s pension reforms be amended to allow direct insurance pension providers to offer guaranteed benefits.Committees advising the Bundesrat – the parliamentary chamber in which Germany’s federal states are represented – said that direct insurance pension providers (Direktversicherungen) should be allowed to offer full or partial guarantees. The government has proposed allowing industries with collective bargaining agreements to run defined contribution pension schemes, without any guaranteed benefits being allowed.The committees argued that a complete ban on guarantees was not necessary for this type of pension provision and that it would limit the collective bargaining partners’ or companies’ room for manoeuvre.However, the VFPK rejected this suggestion, saying it would disadvantage both Pensionfonds and Pensionskassen by cutting the link between guarantees and employer liability.  The recommendation is one of several that were made by committees advising the Bundesrat, which will debate the government’s second pillar pension reform proposal – the Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz (BRSG) – on Friday, 10 February.VFPK said the Bundesrat committees’ recommendation would mean that life insurers and open market pension funds (typically run by life insurers) would be the only providers entitled to offer pensions with guarantees, which would mean occupational pension provision would “once again be left to agents and brokers”.This, said the association, would be a “fatal” development to the detriment of savers.The Bundesrat committees also argued that prohibiting direct insurance pension providers from offering guarantees would hinder the provision of disability and widower benefits. The VFPK rejected this argument.The insurance industry’s representative association, the GDV, lobbied against a blanket ban on guarantees in the new pension plans. The government ignored the GDV’s wish, however. Several other stakeholders also felt their views had been dismissed.Auto-enrolment and discount ratesThe committees also made other recommendations that go against some key elements of the government proposals, such as allowing companies that are not part of collective bargaining agreements to offer opting-out pension models. The government’s reform package currently only allows auto-enrolment for companies involved in collective bargaining agreements. Aba, the German pension fund association, has also argued for companies outside of these agreements to be allowed to offer opting-out models.  The Bundesrat committees also recommended that the full chamber push for a lowering of the discount rate used to calculate pension liabilities for tax purposes (steuerlicher Rechnungszins). In contrast to the rate companies use under the statutory accounting framework, this has remained unchanged for decades, at 6%, and is seen as disadvantaging companies running book reserve pension schemes (Direktzusage).Recently there have been claims that the disparity between the two rates is unconstitutional. However, Thomas Hagemann, chief actuary at Mercer in Germany, told IPE that the government would probably indicate that it intends to look into the issue, but it is unlikely to modify its reform proposal for fear of introducing risks to the law being passed.“Lowering the discount rate for tax accounting would affect federal and state finances and is therefore controversial,” he told IPE.A spokeswoman for the Bundesrat told IPE it is likely to adopt all or some of the committees’ recommendations.The government would then have the option of formulating a response to the Bundesrat position. The Bundestag, the larger parliamentary chamber, would then consider both documents along with the government’s reform proposal.The government – a grand coalition between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) – does not have a safe majority in the Bundesrat, but holds a large majority in the Bundestag.The Bundesrat is due to consider the committees’ recommendations on Friday. The first reading of the pensions reform proposal in the Bundestag is due to take place in the second week of March.last_img read more

Football: Wisconsin survives Iowa 28-17, salvages hope for Playoff season

first_imgMost games following a season-altering loss are automatically labeled as a chance at redemption, a chance to reassert the program’s winning identity. Saturday night in Iowa City was that chance for Wisconsin football. Wisconsin’s non-conference schedule had faced scrutiny considering the established high caliber the Badgers had proven in recent years, but suddenly they had to re-earn the nation’s respect.I’m not sure they succeeded.Before the season began, Hornibrook’s ability to carry the offense and an unproven secondary were the preconceived sore spots for the top five ranked Badgers. A lackluster pass rush and flimsy offensive line were supposed to be the reliable portions of Wisconsin’s identity.Yet Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had a surplus of time in the pocket — Hornibrook was attacked from all angles.Yet a Wisconsin defense heralded as elite across the FBS were consistently embarrassed by simple misdirections.Yet Wisconsin defenders proven as gifted tacklers let Iowa slip through their fingers at every turn.Football: Meet Wisconsin’s newest defensive star, Scott NelsonAfter a demoralizing loss to the BYU Cougars, it’s easy to forget the University of Wisconsin football team still has Read…Wisconsin punted their first drive, Iowa’s first drive ended deep in Wisconsin territory only to be stifled on a gutsy but blown fourth down conversion attempt. Iowa surrendered five yards to penalty in the first half, Wisconsin coughed up 28. Passes downfield for Iowa seemed to always find the open receiver, rare Wisconsin heaves were broken up almost easily.By all accounts, unranked Iowa looked the better team at the half, yet the score was tied 7-7. But the once clear shot at redemption had begun to fade. A close victory would prove nothing — if anything it would show Wisconsin didn’t deserve their preseason ranking.Out-gaining Wisconsin was a figment of many opponent’s imagination historically, but midway through the third quarter, Iowa had a 64-yard advantage.But the universe was bent on giving Wisconsin a chance to save face. An unassuming Wisconsin punt somehow resulted in a red zone opportunity after an Iowa defensemen unknowingly kicked the ball. The eventual Danny Davis touchdown was undeserved, but Wisconsin lead 14-10.The lead felt hollow, like it was inevitable Iowa would counter, like the second touchdown should’ve never happened. A few short minutes later, Iowa had comfortably worked their way into the red zone, almost automatically. On queue, it was 17-14 Iowa.AP Poll, you haunting oracle of truthLast week was a very different era. We have all changed so much during this time. I myself was foolish, Read…Wisconsin’s defense no longer felt like an advantage, they felt like a liability. Jonathan Taylor feels out of the Heisman conversation, not the 150+ yard per game workhorse he’d become.The script was there, the chances were frequent, and Wisconsin waited until the last possible moment to take it. A final Wisconsin drive, one we’d been waiting on for more than four quarters, ended in an AJ Taylor touchdown that gave Wisconsin the late lead that took too long to attain.Maybe the preseason critics we called too eager to pass judgement were right — Saturday night proved Wisconsin was still far from earning national respect.A win is a win, but Wisconsin’s late surge cannot be remembered fondly for the team to improve. This was a sloppy game, and one Wisconsin should have handled with more composure than they exhibited.28-17 is your final in Iowa City. Wisconsin heads into a bye week with plenty to mull over.last_img read more