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Switzerland: Official stats confirm defined benefit disappearance

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There were some 230 fewer pension funds with defined benefit schemes in Switzerland in 2015 than 10 years earlier, according to official statistics released today.

The figures from the country’s federal statistics bureau (BFS) showed that the number of pension funds with defined benefit (DB) plans (Leistungsprimat) fell from 289 to 58 between 2005 to 2015.

Of the 58 remaining, 15 were public pension funds.

Whereas one in five individuals were in DB schemes in 2005, in 2015 this ratio was down to 1 in 15, according to the statistics.

The BFS said that the decline in the number of Pensionskassen running DB plans went hand-in-hand with a decline in the number of scheme members.

Private law pension providers had more than 172,000 plan members in 2005, and just under 22,000 in 2015, according to its statistics.

They have also been switching to “Beitragsprimat” – a form of hybrid scheme – according to the BFS.

The number of individuals in public pension funds with DB schemes has almost halved over the 10 year period since 2005, according to the statistics. In 2005 they counted almost 220,000 members, and in 2015 this was down to just over 121,000.

The number of “mixed” pension funds – those offering both DB and DC plans as they transition to the latter – also fell in the period from 2005 to 2015, according to the statistics.

Separately, the BFS looked at underfunding and net returns in comparison with 2014.

It said that the level of underfunding, at CHF31bn (€28.6bn), was “stable” (up 6.8%). The majority of that (CHF28.1bn) was at public pension providers (up 0.8%), and the remainder at private institutions (up 152.2%).

As at the end of 2015 total occupational pension scheme assets in Switzerland were CHF788bn, up 1.4% compared with the previous year.

The net return from invested assets came crashing down, according to the BFS statistics. This was CHF5.8bn in 2015, down 88.7%, and “thereby reflected the uncertain economic situation” that year.

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