The continuing uncertainty over Greece’s debt problems has played havoc with recent investment returns of Spanish pension funds, according to figures from the country’s Investment and Pension Fund Association (INVERCO).
However, they said values recovered in July, once again approaching pre-crisis levels.
Spain’s occupational pension funds made average returns of 5.57% for the 12 months to end-June 2015. The results are in marked contrast to the 10.61% returns for the 12 months to end-March 2015, and 10.25% for the 12 months to end-June 2014.
INVERCO said: “The general uncertainty about Greece increased market volatility in June, causing widespread falls in all equity indices, especially in European markets. Together with corrections in April and May, it prompted declines in value on pension fund portfolios during the second quarter of the year.”
INVERCO continued: “Debt markets were no exception, and government bond yields rebounded sharply, with a corresponding fall in the price of fixed income assets, with higher falls for long duration bonds.”
But the commentary concluded: “Nevertheless, during the preparation of this report in July, pension fund portfolios recovered all of June’s correction, following the news of the solution to the Greek problem.”
Average annualised returns for Spanish occupational funds were 8.08% for the three years to 30 June 2015, and for the five years to that date, 5.99%.
At end-June, total assets under management for the occupational pensions sector stood at €35bn, slightly lower than at end-March, but up by 3.4% on June 2014. Total pension assets, including those in individual plans, now amount to €102.5bn.
The number of participants has increased slightly, at just over 2m.
For pension funds as a whole, most assets are invested domestically – 62.1% of portfolios, slightly down over the past three months. Non-domestic holdings have also declined, from 20.5% at end-March to 19.4% at end-June.
There has also been a further slight shift from fixed income to equities. Overall, 56.3% is now invested in fixed income, compared with 21.4% in equities (8.3% in Spanish and 13.1% in non-domestic shares).
This compares with 57.7% in fixed income and 22.4% in equities (9% Spanish, 13.4% non-domestic) at end-March 2015. The biggest single component of pension fund portfolios – 32.9% – is still invested in Spanish government bonds, with a further 17.1% in Spanish corporate bonds.
However, cash holdings have risen over the past three months by over two percentage points, to 9.6%.