Austria’s Pensionskassen returned 6.72% on average over the first six months of 2019.

In a press release, the chairman of the pension fund association FVPK, Andreas Zakostelsky, noted this “more than made up” for the market downturn last year.

For 2018, the nine Pensionskassen had reported a loss of -5.18%, after a 6.13% return in 2017.

The FVPK stressed – as it does with each quarterly return information – that pension fund results should be judged over the long term as “pensions are accrued over decades”.

Since inception of the second pillar in Austria in the early 1990s, Pensionskassen have returned 5.17% annualised on average.

For the 2019 first half year results, the pension fund association identified active management, the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision, and an equity market rally as the main drivers of the returns.

“The U-turn by central banks was crucial for the development,” said the FVPK.

After having signalled that a rates hike was on the cards for this year the US central bank in January announced unchanged rates, and that the next move could be a cut. 

Zakostelsky said that the “investment professional at the Pensionskassen proves that active management yields very good returns”.

Sustainable investments and climate protection were “very important” factors in this active management and commitments in these areas were being expanded rapidly, he added. 

Q1 winners differ across risk categories 

The Austrian branch of the international consultancy Mercer recently published its analysis of the first quarter results for Austrian multi-employer Pensionskassen.

Different providers achieved top ranks, depending on the risk category offered under a life-cycle model. Bonus was identified as best in the “defensive” category, which is the one with the lowest equity share (below 16%). Allianz was top both in the “dynamic” category, which has the highest equity share (over 40%), and the “balanced” category (24-32% equities).

APK took the other two top ranks for the “conservative” (16-24%) and the “active” (32-40%) categories.

Life cycle models have been offered by Austrian Pensionskassen since 2006 and slowly more and more people are making use of their right to choose a risk category.

“Those Pensionskassen that actively inform their members about the possibilities of choosing a risk category report more active choices,” said Michaela Plank, pension expert at Mercer Austria.