BELGIUM – The Belgian pension association’s preliminary survey has found the average return in 2003 was 9.87%.

L’Association Belge des Institutions de Pension said it has undertaken a preliminary study into pension fund returns last year, covering 30 funds worth a total of around five billion euros – or 45% of the sector.

“This result constitutes a clear break with three consecutive years of very mediocre results that were a consequence of the recent market weakness,” the association said in a statement.

It said the average portfolio contained an average 48% equities, 39% fixed income and six percent real estate. At the end of 2002, equity allocations were 43%, suggesting a five percent rise.

Real estate was up one percent, while cash instruments and fixed income were down three percent.

“The market developments of the recent years has led in most funds to important disparities between the effective allocation and the strategic allocation,” the association added. “Nevertheless, and with some exceptions, that has not lead to a systematic revision to strategic allocation.”

In fact, it added, funds had returned to their level of strategic allocation following the combined effect of a market increase on the one hand and portfolio ‘rebalancing’ on the other.

The association said it would be conducting its traditional complete survey of pension funds in the coming months – which will be presented at the end of May.