Boosting pension through
sustainability data

Are there any new measures one can take to get employees to care more about their pension? This and much more is something that Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf, Head of Sustainability at SPP, reflects on in this article.

Swedish employers pay 600 million SEK to their employees’ occupational pensions – every day. More often than not, pension is the second biggest personnel cost after salary. At the same time – it is regarded as a product of low interest and besides us working at an occupational pension company, pension is something that most people rarely think about. When it is time to start living on it, it is a lot harder to affect. A study from Sifo reveals that every third person over 55 years old wishes they started saving earlier or that they saved more for their pension.

Furthermore, for a large share of people, pension saving is understood as complicated and difficult to figure out. Research from Novus shows that 6% of those who receive the annual orange letter [Swedish public pension information] don’t even read the content and moreover a significant 43% don’t read it particularly carefully.

We can conclude that it is hard to get employees involved in their pension savings, especially the younger demographic. But knowledge about pension enhances one’s impact on the future, and further highlights the immense resources that the employer spends on occupational pension. As such, we at SPP asked ourselves the question: are there new measures one can take to get employees to care more about their pension?

For me personally, the motivation to oversee my pension came when I understood that it is related to sustainability. Barely 30% of the world’s stock market consists of pension money – a massive capital with extensive impact. The money can be steered away from non-sustainable options, and instead benefit sustainable companies. One can become part owner in, and make money on, companies extracting oil – or companies who contribute to a positive sustainable development.

“Through this experience we could, for example, see what proportion was saved in fossil free funds and that the carbon footprint was lower than comparable savings, thanks to the demand of sustainable funds.”

– Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf, Head of Sustainability at SPP

We presumed that there are many people who think sustainability is important but don’t know how pension and sustainability are related. Especially the younger generations’ value-driven employees. Furthermore, we have seen that companies that are far ahead in their sustainability work still forget to look over the sustainability in their pension investments.

Therefore, we have created a pilot project with a number of customers. First, we lectured about sustainable investments and their influence for all employees. After that, every employee mapped out their personal sustainability data for their specific savings in SPP with the help of our “sustainability map”. Through this experience we could, for example, see what proportion was saved in fossil free funds and that the carbon footprint was lower than comparable savings, thanks to the demand of sustainable funds.

It turns out that 8 out of 10 employees had a higher appreciation of their occupational pension after the pilot was conducted than before. 6 out of 10 felt more engaged in their occupational pension than before, and the same ratio experienced that they had a better oversight of what they invested in. The pilot turned out to be an interesting insight from a number of aspects. If more people open their eyes to how sustainability and pension savings are related the more likely they are to both get a better control over their pension funds and increased incentive to start saving early. Retirement may be far away, but the money is invested here and now.

For the employer this means a new approach to boost awareness concerning the large sum set out for pension in reference to their employees. Beyond that, a sustainable pension can be an advantage to highlight in recruitment processes.

For a long time, sustainability data has been flawed due to inadequate quality and coverage, but it is improving quickly. We will continue to develop the “sustainability map” so it becomes even easier to get a comprehensive overview of how sustainable one’s pension savings are. I think that it bodes well for the future of pension engagement.

Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf
Head of Sustainability at SPP

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