IRELAND - Pension funds in Ireland saw their fortunes improve last month, as the market stabilised and the average managed fund began seeing year-to-date returns of 4.2%.

The news comes after a particularly bad few months that saw second-quarter returns fall as low as -4.9% for Setanta Asset Management, the primary manager for Canada Life in Ireland.

The average loss for Irish managed funds was 3.7% over the same period.

Managing director of Rubicon Investment Consulting Fiona Daly, whose company authored the survey, said that after a good start to the year, there may have been some concern about future returns in May and June.

“There might have been some concern that ‘Oh God, maybe that was it’,” she said.

“It’s good to see it picking up again in July, and hopefully it was the downturn that was the blip, rather than the upturn.”

However, Daly said the three-year average for the funds surveyed - a 7.6% loss - was still “woeful”.

“Even the 10-year figures are still, in real terms, a negative, so you’ve got an average annualised return of -2%, which is pretty awful,” she said.

Over 10 years, just over half of the asset managers were able to record positive returns, while only 50% were able to achieve more than 1%, with the peak being 1.8%.

Daly said the 10-year period had been “spectacularly bad” as a result of two major bear markets.

Overall, July saw returns of 2.2%, with Canada Life/Setanta rebounding from its second-quarter low to offer the highest returns of more than 3%.

In the year-to-date figures. Standard Life Investment Managers was able to offer up the healthiest returns of almost 6%, followed by Irish Life with 5.2%.