We have talked to our customer, Tanja Gotthardsen, development consultant and sustainability promoter, about what considerations she had before signing up for a sustainable pension.
Why did you choose to get a sustainable pension?
Our money operates on a number of different levels. When we pay for our oats in the supermarket, or when we buy new things for our homes or wardrobes, naturally we contribute to the production of more oats and the circulation of furniture and clothes. This is a visible and tangible impact. But while oats and consumer goods are easy to relate to, underlying investments that are implicit and less tangible exist as well.
An area that is gaining increased awareness is the production processes and company conditions our money contributes to when we purchase a product. We question if our oatmeal is organic and if our dresses are made by people who are properly paid. You may buy second-hand clothes because you don’t want them to go to waste? We know that sometimes, as consumers, if we want to be responsible, we need to dig deeper in order to find out what we actually invest in. Even though it might seem confusing at times, it is our responsibility.
“But what about the money others invest for us?”
But there is another level. A hugely important level, but one with little transparency which we only engage with in a passive manner. What about the money others invest for us? The money we save up? For instance, our pension savings? I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought until I started researching the field of pensions myself.
I knew that the money wouldn’t grow by just staying in my bank account. But I hadn’t really considered the fact that my money is invested into weapons, fossil fuels, tobacco and/or companies with a record in corruption and human rights offences. Now I know.
How did you discover Matter?
Even though I consider myself a fairly conscious consumer, it wasn’t until recently I took a stance on where my pension is invested. When I entered the job market a couple a years ago after finishing my studies, it was accompanied by a wide range of questions in connection to pensions. Questions that I honestly didn’t find very exciting. It was, in many ways, very abstract to me that I, at the age of 26, had to start considering my old age, factoring in risk profiles and additional insurances. So, I started exploring my opportunities and came to the result that I didn’t know anything. And even though I realized that I didn’t really know what my money was invested in, I also couldn’t really see any alternatives. I ended up placing my money in the pension company that my job had an agreement with, but it kept nagging at me.
Fast forward to recently, where I again went on a tour-de-Google. Actually, I was at the computer to look into companies that offer relief aid to the environment and people, while exploiting both on a daily basis through their core production. Suddenly I caught myself thinking about my pension again. So, I googled “sustainable pension”, and found Matter.
I acted fast. Pensions are one of the areas where we can do something once to take a stance permanently. Afterwards, others will ensure that our money is invested sustainably. It requires less effort than being sustainable in our day-to-day consumptions.
"Retrospectively, it seemed kind of silly that I hadn’t had my pension invested sustainably from the beginning"
Retrospectively, it seemed kind of silly that I hadn’t had my pension invested sustainably from the beginning. But it would have been easier if I had known about the possibility.
How was it becoming a costumer?
It was easy. After a thorough look around Matter’s website, I booked a non-committal meeting at a time that suited me. I received a confirmation email. I had now taken the first step.
The same day, I received a call from Niels who works for Matter. He explained to me why they had started a sustainable pension plan in the first place. Among other things, he explained how they wish to create more transparency – so that you can, for example, see your CO2-savings, and that you will soon be able to see your portfolio. He also explained how Matter is responsible for screening the market for sustainable investment possibilities (they developed a techy screening tool), while Skandia is responsible for customer advising and investments made on behalf of Matter. After talking to Niels, next step was to book a meeting with a pension advisor from Skandia.
I booked a meeting and received a call from Sebastian, who works for Skandia. We talked about my previous savings, thoroughly discussed my wishes, my job- and life situation and my insurances. Everything went nice and smoothly, with time for questions at the end. Going through my insurances showed that I had too many insurance policies, so it was definitely beneficial to look through my situation. Sebastian promised that he would get the rest of the details fixed and that he would call the following week with an offer. And he did.
“Best of all – I am now considerably more aware of where my money goes when paying into my pension savings”
The offer was in my inbox a few days later. Sebastian had gathered my pension savings and configured my insurances. I went through the material thoroughly, and it turned out to be way more understandable than the pension report I had downloaded just the week before. And best of all – I am now considerably more aware of where my money goes when paying into my pension savings. In the email, Sebastian advised me to call or write if I had any questions in connection to the material I received. He is my advisor now. And boom, everything is fixed.
In reality, I sat comfortably on my couch for two undemanding phone meetings, asked my questions, and then Matter and Skandia fixed everything for me. Easy, right?