A number of Swiss pension funds are planning to sue banks over the commissions they receive from fund providers and other service providers, according to Asip, the Swiss pension fund association.

As part of new structural reform implemented in the country’s second-pillar pension system, schemes are obliged to be much more active with respect to transparency on fees and commissions.

Pensionskassen are now claiming that some banks have failed to disclose all of the commissions, or ‘retrocessions’, they are receiving.

The Swiss pension fund association said it could not name any of the banks involved but confirmed to IPE that “various Pensionskassen are looking into starting lawsuits”.

According to the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger, the BVK pension fund is one of the Pensionskassen contemplating legal action.

But the BVK told IPE it was “not commenting on the topic at the moment” and therefore “not confirming” the newspaper article. 

Asip director Hanspeter Konrad said: “Pensionskassen are demanding the disclosure and payback of retrocessions, but they are frequently seeing resistance from financial institutions involved.”

He said banks very often argued that commissions they received only had to be disclosed and/or paid back when the bank was mandated as an asset manager.

However, according to Asip, the ruling also applies to custody and other mandates.

In various memos to its members, the association frequently stressed that Pensionskassen should push financial service providers for greater disclosure on commissions and fees.  

Further, Asip said it was unclear which period of limitation had to be applied – either five or 10 years.