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Sweden appoints implementation chief for premium pension reform

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Sweden has appointed a special investigator to lead a review tasked with implementing reforms to its first-pillar Premium Pension System (PPM).

Mikael Westberg, current head of legal at the Pensions Authority, which oversees payment of Sweden’s state pension benefits, is to lead the implementation review, drafting regulatory proposals for a funds marketplace within the PPM.

The proposals are to be presented by November 2019, and the new authority in charge of the funds marketplace will start operating on 1 September 2020, the government said.

The PPM is being reformed to solve problems that have arisen since the system was set up in the 1990s – including, most recently, a  spate of scandals involving rogue traders.

Annika Strandhäll, minister for social security and chair of the Swedish parliament’s pensions group, said pension savings in Sweden should always be safe.

Annika Strandhäll

Annika Strandhäll, chair of the Pensions Group

“Pensioners’ money should never have to be hunted down in tax havens and you don’t have to be a financial expert to get a good pension,” she said.

The PPM is the defined contribution part of the Swedish state pension, allowing individuals to allocate a percentage of contributions to private investment providers via the funds marketplace, or use the default option, AP7’s Såfa.

Stefan Lundbergh, the Cardano expert who came up with most of the plan now being put in place, told IPE he was very happy with the appointment.

“I think it is going in the right direction, and the momentum is keeping up,” he said. “The devil will be in the detail, but I think the person they have appointed is going to do very a good job.”

At the Pensions Authority, Westberg has been at the centre of efforts to deal with private fund managers falling foul of the law.

As part of the reform, in June the Pensions Authority published a set of tougher requirements for investment providers operating in the PPM in future.

Some 21 funds have been cut from the funds marketplace after violating co-operation agreements, the government said.

The Pensions Authority is currently involved in several legal processes both in Sweden and abroad recovering money for pensioners affected by scams, it said.

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