BeFrank continues to challenge the pension sector

22 December 2020


Bringing pensions closer to people by means of smart tools and clear communication. When BeFrank was founded 10 years ago, this was the most important consideration. And it still is. It is the key point used by the pension provider to attract increasingly large companies to use its services.

Services that are mainly provided online via the internet and mobile phones. Nowadays, we don’t even think about it but in 2010, this was a major new phenomenon in our country. It was the year when BeFrank was launched, as the first Premium Pension Institution (PPI) in our country. This is a pension administrator which collects and invests premiums but does not make payments. That’s the job of the insurer. Jan Hein Rhebergen has been BeFrank’s Commercial Director since 2016.

How often do you have to explain to people who BeFrank is?
“Less and less often, actually. We entered the pensions market in the Netherlands in 2010 as a challenger, a party that didn’t want to be unnecessarily complicated about pensions. So that people could gain a better understanding of why they are creating a pot of cash for later, how that is achieved, and how their finances are doing. BeFrank now has 90 employees. We serve 1,050 employers and invest the pension funds of around 270,000 Dutch workers. All in all, this amounts to approximately 5 billion euros.”

What have these employees noticed since you’ve been around?
“Ultimately, it is the employers who decide whether to include a pension in their terms of employment. Most of them do. In certain sectors, you have no choice; as a building company, for example, you rely on the pension fund for the building industry. We focus on sectors which do have freedom of choice. If employers choose BeFrank, we take their pension concerns off their hands completely. We provide pension communication and by being clear about the issues, the employer receives fewer questions.”

This communication plays a vital role in BeFrank’s vision. And that means simple communication wherever possible. Better to have a handy app than lengthy letters and to try not to use complex terms which put people off. Since the start, ten years ago, the online pension administrator has insisted on simplicity in every respect. And the main aim? Bringing pensions closer to people.

Translate this mission into practice, what have people noticed?
“It begins with the welcome pack. Don’t expect us to send packs of paper with lengthy letters and documents. We send new people an email with a personal welcome video. In just one minute, we tell you all you need to know. We also explain the app which allows you to easily find out how much pension you’ve accrued, for example.”

The online dashboard plays an important role in the service, doesn’t it?
“BeFrank has profiled itself as an online pension administrator from day one. We don’t have a paper legacy from the past and that is a huge advantage compared to the traditional pension administrators. Our entire online environment is set up so that everything is as easy as possible for the user. Users immediately see how much has been invested in premiums and what has been accrued. You can also see straightaway how much pension you can expect to receive later on. We furthermore ensure that there is clarity about what happens to your pension if, for example, you wish to stop working early or invest more money.”

Simple communications. Everything online. A handy, easy to use app. In BeFrank’s first few years, these features tended to mainly appeal to innovative companies. They were also often focussed on online business. Now, however, BeFrank is an established name in the world of pensions and the customer portfolio has a much broader base among employers. Large, smaller and also from a range of sectors.

Is it difficult to fulfil the ongoing demand for innovation?
“Not if you stick by your mission and employees always refer back to it. We being the week, for example, with a weekly meeting so that everyone knows what they are working on. Which new releases have there been? Are there still projects that need support? We thus prevent ‘islands’ being created, which is always a risk when you’re expanding. We do that physically in the office too by keeping all workstations on one floor. Of course, everything has changed at the moment because we have been working from home since March.”

Culture as a driver for growth and innovation, does that cover it?
“Absolutely! Take something like having lunch. It may be a small part of the day which doesn’t even happen in lots of companies, but we continue this tradition. It is a moment when the various departments come together. Personal issues are covered, but sometimes we also chat about work-related things and ideas can be exchanged. Employees receive a hand-written card on their anniversaries. Simple idea, but a significant gesture. People tend to feel at home with us as a result. This sense of belonging has been reflected over the past few months in all our online activities, such as quizzes, bingo and other things. We score 8.2 on employee satisfaction and I’m really proud of that. After all, when employees feel happy, they feel more involved and put in a better performance. This will allow BeFrank to carry on growing over the next 10 years.”

This article appeared on on 16 December 2020.