“A Solvency II-style approach will be highly damaging for pension schemes”

04.08.2015 – Joanne Segars NAPF 2015Eiopa’s plan running a stress test for occupational pension funds had met with sharp criticism from the National Association of Pension Funds (Napf). Joanne Segars, Chief Executive of Napf, explains in the summer interview with VWheute why Gabrial Bernadinos approach will adversely affect the pension schemes. “Rather than strengthen workplace pensions, Eiopa’s proposals are likely to weaken them.”

VWheute: In which way can the adverse effect of Solvency II on the pension schemes be mitigated and do you see any compromise between you and Gabriel Bernardino how solvency rules can be modified without placing an additional burden on defined benefit pension schemes?

Joanne Segars: In Pensions Europe, we start from the position that we want to see strong workplace pension schemes and to that extent, we share Mr Bernardino’s objective. We simply differ on the method for getting there. It is our view at PensionsEurope that a Solvency II-style approach will be highly damaging for pension schemes across Europe. Rather than strengthen workplace pensions, Eiopa’s proposals are likely to weaken them. It is hard for us to see how a one-size-fits all approach to measuring these sensitive issues across all Member States can achieve the desired outcome of strong workplace pensions, when pensions are so inter-mixed with each nation’s social and labour law – a correct reflection of the fact that pensions policy is a Member State competence. At the recent PensionsEurope conference, Mr Bernardino said that the holistic balance sheet (HBS) and the current stress test would be a measuring tool only, and we would see this as a far better outcome.

VWheute: What are your personal and business goals for the rest of the year?

Joanne Segars: There’s lots to do between now and the end of the year. One of the major events in the NAPF year is our Annual Conference and Exhibition in October. There will be plenty for us to talk about at the event, including how to ensure the latest government proposals on pensions tax reform support long-term pension saving and provide the right incentives to the right people to save. Looking beyond our annual conference there’s the matter of Europe – clearly we will be engaged through PensionsEurope on the holistic balance sheet and Eiopa’s stress test, as well as making the most of the opportunities presented to institutional investors through the Capital Markets Union work.

VWheute: Where did you spend your vacation or how do you plan to spend your vacation?

I will be spending my vacation in Namibia – a mixture of watching wildlife in the national parks and looking at the stunning scenery.  It’s not until after our conference in October, and I can’t wait!

Questions by VWheute-Editor David Gorr.

Picture: Joanne Segars (Source: Napf)

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