Nordea’s life and pensions business saw operating profit fall in the fourth quarter of last year to €69m, down €7m from the quarter before, hit by effects of Polish pensions reform.

In its fourth quarter report, the Nordic and Baltic banking group said its underlying profit in the life and pensions division continued to rise, driven by the all-time high level of assets under management in market-return products and strong risk results. 

“However, in the fourth quarter, the effect of this was offset by a write-down of deferred acquisition costs in the Polish pension fund operation amounting to €11m, related to the pension reform in Poland,” the banking group said.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2012, operating profit for the fourth quarter of last year was down by €56m, Nordea reported.

However this fall was due to the fact fee income for the traditional portfolio, relating to previous periods, was accounted for at the end of 2012, it said.

For the full 2013 year, operating profit fell 3% to €272m from €280m.

The Nordea group announced in June 2012 that it would divest its Polish operations. 

Chief executive Christian Clausen said the financial industry in Poland was changing, due to new regulatory requirements, as well as structural development in the market.

While part of Nordea’s life insurance business in Poland is included in the divestment, its Polish pension fund company will be unaffected by the transaction, the group said in its fourth quarter report.

Nordea said the shift into market return products and away from traditional with-profits products had continued in the fourth quarter.

While €900m flowed into market return products, €600m flowed out of traditional products, and assets in market return products accounted for 50% of total assets under management in the division at the end of the fourth quarter, Nordea said.

Premium income rose 21% in the fourth quarter year-on-year to €1.87bn for the division.

Meanwhile, Danish engineers’ pension fund DIP reported a return of 7.8% on its investments in 2013, helped by returns on equities and alternatives.

The return is down from 2012 results, when the fund generated an 11.4% overall return.

Shares made a 19.6% profit last year, and alternative investments produced 11.8%.

Meanwhile, stable bonds, which make up 35.3% of the portfolio, returned 1.1%, and volatile bonds — with a 15.8% allocation — produced 0.7%.

Property generated a 5.8% profit on investments.

In other results from Danish pension funds, Bankpension reported returns of between 0.5% and 8.4% for 2013, depending on the risk profile of the product.

It blamed the weak result on its high level of exposure to emerging markets.

The labour-market fund said the result could be seen as unsatisfactory compared with equity market developments in the US, Japan and Europe.

“The relatively weak result is exclusively because of Bankpension’s relatively large investment in emerging markets,” the fund said.

This investment prioritisation produced a significant excess return for many years, but the returns in emerging market are marked by bigger swings than those seen in developed countries, the fund said.

“In the long term, an actively controlled allocation to emerging markets will produce outperformance for our members,” it said.