The 2010/06/30 at 10:05
Alexandre T. Analis
After twenty years as a project manager working on major international industrial projects for engineering firms, Bruno Renardier took over management of Assistance Retraite in July 2007. He is the son of Michel Renardier, founder of the company.
Commerce International: In what circumstances was Assistance Retraite founded and what are its activities?
Bruno Renardier: “When my father Michel Renardier reachedt the age of retirement twenty-four years ago, he realised that taking care of all the procedures to claim his rights was not an easy thing. He therefore founded Assistance Retraite which helps private individuals and company employees (in large groups as well as SMEs, SMIs and VSEs) to prepare for their retirement by defining the best possible strategy for optimising the rights acquired under French pension schemes and carrying out, on their behalf, procedures for obtaining the pension. Our role is limited to these dimensions of consultancy and support: we do not sell any financial product and we are remunerated at a fixed fee defined upon the signing of a letter of mission.”
Private individuals and businesses: who exactly are your clients?
B.R.: “Assistance Retraite began by working essentially for private individuals who were company heads, self-employed, upper executives or expatriate employees. Via some of our upper management clients, we were called upon to offer our services to human resources departments. We have developed a training programme service for companies, to present rules on the pension system to employees or to heads of HR departments.”
How do your teams work?
B.R.: “Over time, we have acquired an unequalled competence. Our experience was built up empirically, and relies on human and IT means developed over the years. Our teams are made up of 13 collaborators including a former company head, an ex-HR manager of an international company, and experts in retirement law. For several years now, our team has been stable: young administrators join us as apprentices and stay. We are based in Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine, west of Paris).”
You deal exclusively with files concerning rights acquired under French pension schemes. How would you describe the French system?
B.R.: “The French retirement system is complex and difficult to understand! The ensemble is made up of several schemes depending on a person’s status: public servant, self-employed, employee. Rules differ according to the scheme and in certain cases, for example in the case of self-employed workers, the rules of complementary schemes differ from one profession to another. This situation makes retirement hard to read, especially for those who have the right to pensions from various sources. For example, a person who works throughout his life in the same company as a manager will have access to three types of pensions: a pension from the French Social Security (compulsory regime), a pension from ARRCO (compulsory complementary regime for all employees) and a pension from AGIRC (compulsory complementary pension for manager employees). If this manager finishes his career with a TNS (non-salaried worker) status, the whole things becomes a veritable imbroglio: he will have the right to two extra pensions! Some systems function with annuities, others with points based on different calculation and evaluation systems. With all this, it’s difficult to manage to foresee the sum of one’s pension. All this generates a feeling of discomfort amongst private individuals.”
And how exactly do you help them?
B.R.: “We help them to understand what their rights are, what sum they can expect to receive, when is the right moment for them to retire, and we check the final decision with them. We work over two stages: an evaluation stage and a consultancy stage when we explain to clients why it is preferable for them to continue working or to retire or else choose a more gradual system whereby they combine employment with a semi-retired status…”
When should one prepare for one’s retirement and is it possible to optimise one’s pension ?
B.R.: “While there’s still time left, that is, between 55 and 62 years! At that time we help clients to check their rights to better anticipate the future by making simulations for the coming years and by exploring different ways to continue – or not continue – professional activities after the age of sixty. When we advise our clients, we describe to them the different systems available. If someone has followed throu- gh their career from start to end, there is no problem to have the right to a pension at the full rate, and in this case, different systems are available allowing pensions to be combined with professional income. But it is common for people to miss working a quarter here or there, and to avoid rights being cut, it becomes necessary to redeem these quarters. Assistance Retraite carries out simulations allowing fully informed decisions to be made.”
How can semesters be redeemed for pension purposes?
B.R.: “There are two ways this can happen. First there are pension deposits that allow up to 12 quarters to be redeemed for study years or incomplete years (years during which fewer than 4 quarters have been worked). In this case, the price for redeeming a quarter swings between 4,000 and 6,000 euros. The second type allows quarters corresponding to periods of employment overseas to be redeemed. In this specific case, an unlimited number of quarters can be redeemed and the unit price is around 1,000 euros. All the same, French employees working overseas should hurry up because on 1 January 2011 at the latest, these two measures are going to be aligned by law, and one quarter per period of employment overseas will cost as much as a pension deposit!”
The reform of the pension scheme is a talking point in the news at the moment. What will be the real impact of reform on employees?
B.R.: “Depending on their year of birth, future pension holders will be more or less affected by the reform. But it should be noted that the law does not stray from its habit of changing rules gradually – for example, by adding only one quarter for the duration of required contribution for every subsequent year of birth – so that the ‘pill’ is swallowed more easily! Much is said about basic regimes, and less about the ARRCO and AGIRC schemes although the latter two represent up to 70% of a manager’s income. As for the AGFF (association for the management of finance funds, editorial note) agreement, which enables minimising or even deleting the penalties imposed on employees taking early retirement, it has been renewed once again 31 December 2010. After this date, and in the context of the reform, new rules will need to be defined: it is probable that the agreement will be renewed again, but under different conditions, and here, negotiations between various social partners may well be difficult. Finally, the issue of the convergence of public-sector and private-sector pension schemes continues to be raised…”
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