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IPE special report May 2018

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Cardano’s Lundbergh to lead Swedish premium pension system review

The Swedish government and the cross-party pensions group have tasked Cardano director Stefan Lundbergh with a review of the country’s scandal-hit Premium Pension System (PPM).


Lundbergh, who is also a supervisory board member at the fourth AP pensions buffer fund (AP4), has been appointed as an independent expert in the latest stage of Sweden’s push to reform its public pension system, which has now been going on for several years. 


Annika Strandhäll, the minister for social security, said: “Lundbergh has many years of international experience of funded pension solutions, which makes him a good choice.”


She said that the past year had revealed abuse of the premium pension system, with rogue players taking advantage of pension savers.


“It is completely unacceptable in a social security system,” she said.


The PPM exists as a funded part of the Swedish state pension that allows Swedes to make their own investment choices.


Currently, people can choose to have their contributions managed by some of the 800-odd private sector investment managers that belong to the PPM fund marketplace. Alternatively, they can choose the Såfa balanced default fund option which is run by state pension fund AP7.


While a process of system reform has been going on since 2014, poor results and cases of criminal conduct from some providers has made the need for change more urgent.


The government described Lundbergh’s commission as fast-track, since he has been given less than three months to produce the results of the exercise.


Speaking to IPE, Lundbergh explained this was because the pension group is keen to have PPM reform in place well before the September 2018 election process gets underway.


He said he would work to draw a “map” of the possible solutions for the PPM’s structure, which could then be used to guide the pensions group in their deliberations and help them agree on the main directions.


“The idea is to draw a map of what is possible, without very strong preferences, and people in the pensions group will make decisions,” he said.
 “We need to find a solution that meets the needs of the system in a good way.”


He said his role would be to address three questions: the purpose of the premium pension, what kind of strategy would lead towards that goal, and how that strategy could be implemented.


Lundbergh cited Lord Turner – who led a review of the UK’s pension system that paved the way for the introduction of auto-enrolment – as an inspiration.

“The pensions group has asked me a very open question, and that helps in the task I have in front of me,” he said.

Planned reforms of Sweden’s buffer fund system – which consists of AP1, AP2, AP3, AP4, and AP6 – were scrapped in December 2015 after heavy criticism from the funds and industry commentators.

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