Austria’s 15 Pensionskassen have reported a 4.8% average return over the first half of 2014 after producing a 1.6% average return over the first quarter.

The first-half performance is nearly equal to the full-year performance for 2013, which stood at 5.14%, as that year had started in a difficult market environment, leading to a 0.82% half-year performance.

In 2014, the further lowering of the interest rate by the European Central Bank sustained the “challenge” for institutions for future investments, according to the Austrian pension fund association FVPK.

“At the same time,” it said, “bond prices rose as well, and, additionally, the equities markets developed positively.”

As per end-March, just over 57% of Pensionskassen’s assets were invested in bonds, and 35.5% on average in equities.

Austrian schemes were 3.4% invested in real estate, with the rest invested in “other asset classes”.

The FVPK warned that Southern Europe had not fully overcome the financial crisis, as “necessary reforms have not fully been implemented”.

According to the most recent statistics, 840,000 Austrians are members of a Pensionskasse, or 22% of all Austrian employees (in 2008, the share had been 13%).

In total, the 15 Pensionskassen are managing €17.7bn in assets.

The FVPK also confirmed that both Pensionskassen and severance pay funds (Vorsorgekassen) were now exempt from tax-reporting requirements under the FATCA agreement with the US.

Only after pressure from the retirement funds, both vehicles were classified as Exempt Beneficial Owners under the agreement, the association said.