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Switzerland's BVK opens to employers outside of Zurich

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BVK, the CHF31.8bn (€27.8bn) pension fund for the canton of Zurich, has opened itself up to manage pension plans for employers across the rest of Switzerland.

Taking on new schemes would benefit BVK’s risk profile and member structure, it said.

It would only accept new joiners if this were in the collective interest of BVK’s existing members and affiliated employers.

Until it was recently changed, BVK’s legal foundation meant the pension fund could only take on new companies if they had a close financial or economic connection to the canton of Zurich.

BVK said it was particularly well set up for large groups in the health, education and administration sectors, but is open to other employers.

BVK is the biggest Pensionskasse in Switzerland based on member numbers. It currently operates pension plans for more than 450 employers, covering 115,000 employees.

It lost some employers after making changes in 2015 that exposed members to pension reductions, and had to warn others from being lured away by rival providers.

According to BVK’s annual report for 2016, 17 sponsors cancelled their contract with BVK during the year and had left the pension provider as at January 2017. No employers joined in 2016.

Bruno Zanella, president of the BVK board of trustees, said BVK was attractive because it had an advantageous member structure, above-average performance and state-of-the-art technical infrastructure.

BVK’s investments gained 5.7% in 2016, according to its annual report. It has outperformed its benchmark for the past five years. 

Separately, BVK has added two pension solutions to its existing product range, meaning affiliated employers can now supplement existing pension plans with additional benefits.

Under the “comprehensive provision” solution, employers can insure the part of an employee’s salary that is deducted to coordinate payments between the first and second pillar.

The add-on plan, meanwhile, is geared towards employees aged 43 or older and earning on wages of at least CHF126,900 (€109,700).

Thomas Schönbächler, chairman of the BVK executive board, said: “With the two new pension plans, we are offering our already affiliated employers the opportunity to make their employment conditions even more attractive and to tailor the provision to their needs.

“Generous supplementary pension plans are becoming increasingly important in the competition for talent.”

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