Sunday 18 August 2019

Low interest rates continue to hit pension funds; pension cuts loom

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Netherlands biggest pension funds are still not performing as well as they should and there is a real risk some pensions will be cut next year.

The five biggest funds published their quarterly investment results on Thursday and all but one said their coverage ratios – the assets needed to meet their pension obligations –  are stable but still well below the required level.

Civil service pension fund ABP, which is one of the biggest in the world, managed to increase its coverage ratio from 90.4% to 90.6% in the second quarter. However, it should be at least 105% to meet official guidelines.

The healthcare pension fund Zorg & Welzijn has a coverage ratio of 89% while the two big engineering funds are also in the low 90s. Of the big five, only the construction section fund BFP Bouw is almost at the key 105%. The hospitality industry and retail sector funds also have coverage ratios of almost 105%.

‘Cuts in 2017 would seem to be increasingly likely,’ said ‘Guus Wouters, director of engineering fund PMT.

Pension funds have been hit by falling interest rates but the impact of the British referendum on leaving the EU was minimal, ABP chairman Corien Wortmann-Kool, said in the Financieele Dagblad.

The Dutch central bank said earlier this year that 27 pension funds may have to cut payouts next year if they don’t get their coverage ratios above 90%.

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