IRELAND - Irish group pension managed fund returns have now lost 14.8% of their value over the last 12 months, and Oppenheim Investment Managers was the only managed fund to beat inflation over the past 10 years, the latest figures reveal.

Data presented by Rubicon Investment Consulting shows Oppenheim returned 5% per annum over the last 12 years compared with 3.2% per annum on average by the wider sector and against an inflation rate of 3.8% over 10 years.

Tthe average managed fund is now showing a return of just 4.9% per annum over the past three years but the situation perhaps looks particularly bad as these funds lost 11.4% in the first three months of this year, the best negative return being -9.5% from Setanta Asset Management and at worst stretching to -13.9% from Friends First/F&C.

Rubicon argues it is important to remember the horizon of most pension funds is generally over 25 years, and equities have historically provided significantly higher returns over the long-term than bonds, property or cash, despite the higher level of volatility.

At the same time, rival consultancy firm Hewitt Associates has confirmed its Managed Fund Index showed a negative return of -11.4% in the first quarter of 2008, as the global equities market dropped 16.1% over that period, and the corresponding figure for Ireland during that time was 10.0%.

More specifically, the Eurozone saw equity returns down 16%,  then fall 17.3% for the UK and -16.5% for the US. There was modest rise of 1.4% in 10-year bonds but this put the sector only slightly ahead of 1.1% cash returns, so officials are keen to stress returns over periods of five or 10 years are more important for most pension fund members.