SWITZERLAND – Rallying equity markets over the first quarter helped public pension schemes in Switzerland to exceed the 100% funding mark, according to Swisscanto.

The asset manager said all of the schemes participating in its latest Pensionskassen-Monitor saw funding levels increase after they returned 4.2% on average for the three months to the end of March.

This figure falls roughly in between estimates by Towers Watson and Credit Suisse.

Those public pension funds aiming for full funding saw their funding levels improve by 290 basis points to 101.4%.

Private pension funds managed to raise their funding rates by 330 percentage points to 110.1% on average.

Public pension funds with a state guarantee, which are allowed to keep their funding level at 80%, now have an average funding level of 77.2%, which is 250 percentage points more than at the beginning of the year.

Swisscanto based its projections on the strategic asset allocation, per year-end 2011, of 340 pension funds, with nearly CHF440bn (€360bn) in total assets.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse added details to preliminary figures in its quarterly Pensionskassenindex revealing a record high in Swiss pension funds' equity exposure.

Foreign equities alone account for almost 18% of overall allocations, just shy of real estate (20.2%), Credit Suisse said.

In mid-2008, foreign equities accounted for 15% of the average portfolio; in mid-2001, 16.8%.

Domestic equities account for 13.4% of portfolios on average, as per end-March 2013, still roughly the average post-crisis exposure.

By comparison, the share of domestic equities was 15.2% as per year-end 2006, 13% in mid-2008 and 12.2% in mid-2011.