The number of Belgian pension funds fell by 10 in 2022, although the number of members rose by 13%, according to the latest annual statistical overview prepared by the Belgian regulator, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).

At the end of 2022 there were 159 IORPs governed by Belgian law, down from 169 in 2021; 12 of the 159 pension funds were in liquidation or liquidated, however.

The number of IORP members rose to 2.43 million in 2022. The number of members in defined benefit schemes was down to 11% from 14% in 2018. This represents 66% of pension funds, down from 71% in 2018.

Poor performance on the stock market as a result of the war in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis dragged assets down to €40.4bn at the end of 2022, a 14% decrease on 2021.

Two-thirds of the total sector’s assets are held by only 13% of the pension funds, with a fifth of the IORPs only accountable for 0.2% of total assets.

According to the FSMA’s update, Belgian IORPs invested a little more than three-quarters of their assets in mutual funds, with the pension funds investing, directly and indirectly, 48% in bonds and 41% in equities.

Belgian pension funds lost 14.9% on their investments in 2022, according to the FSMA. Industry association PensioPlus said their investment performance bounced back in the first six months of 2023, reaching an average return of 4.5%.

The average coverage level in 2022 was 113%, also down on 2021 as equities performed poorly and interest rates rose. 

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