(June 27, 2011) — The European Commission has appointed Aon Hewitt as an expert adviser for the possible establishment of a pan-European pension fund for researchers.
The contract — which will run from 2011 to 2013 — is part of the European Union’s 2020 ‘Innovation Union’ flagship initiative, aiming to increase the mobility of researches while also allowing for their pensions to be transferable. The mission of the project: advise organizations that employ researchers in the European Economic Area who are willing to prepare and establish a pan-European pension fund, Professional Pensions reported.
The appointment follows resistance to the launch of a pension fund for researchers. In 2009, according to IPE.com, the European Association of Public Sector Pension Institutions chair Wolf Thiel said during a conference: “Such a pan-European scheme would not serve the interests of the researchers working at various institutions across Europe, and not in ours.” Instead of creating a pan-European scheme, researchers would be better-off with already existing national schemes, Thiel said.
Despite the resistance, Yvan Legris, CEO of Aon Hewitt for Europe, told Professional Pensions: “Our long standing commitment to pioneering innovative solutions that work in the area of pensions – and in the best interest of both employers and employees – reaches new heights with this project. We are seeing a growing interest in pan-European pension funds from multinational organisations who are seeking to improve governance and manage risk.”
A study completed last year by the consultant firm noted that the pan-European pensions market has been growing in momentum since the implementation of the EU Pension Directive in 2005. The firm noted that a third of multi-national companies will have pan-European pension arrangements by 2015.
“The pan-European pensions market is on the cusp of significant growth. Companies have been expressing an interest in consolidating their pension arrangements for some time, but have been somewhat reluctant to be the first to test the water,” the consultancy said in a statement. “However, with several companies having now implemented such a vehicle and with a significant number of financial services providers offering or developing new products, the proposition is becoming more feasible. It’s clear both from our survey findings and from our own experience of the market that, with several providers and a series of products available, the market-place is becoming more competitive and attractively priced.”
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