A new survey by Swedish pension provider Skandia showed public confidence in the pension system had taken a hit in the last year – a decline the firm blames on “questionable investments” in the occupational sector, as well as the media’s reporting of them.

Skandia said this morning that a new survey carried out on its behalf by market research firm Novus showed nearly four out of 10 Swedes now had very or fairly low confidence in the Swedish pension system.

The firm said that in the first such survey done in 2018, the reputation of the pension system had been damaged due to the scandals in the premium pension system, but that since then the direction had been positive.

“Unfortunately, the new measurement shows a clear trend break,” the firm said.

Mattias Munter, pension economist at Skandia, said: “What is surprising now is that we have a relatively large loss in a short time.”

“Normally, these tend to be more sluggish numbers, so it suggests that something bigger has happened that has damaged trust,” he said.

In the new survey, Skandia said 24% of respondents said they had very or fairly high confidence in the system, while 39% claimed very or fairly low confidence in it. In the previous poll, it had been 34% and 31%, respectively, the firm said.

Respondents were also asked in the most recent questionnaire whether their confidence had been affected by “the autumn’s media reporting on questionable pension investments”, Skandia said.

Some 65% of those surveyed said they had read the reports and 34% said their trust in the pension system had been negatively affected by them, according to the pension provider.

In a leader column in yesterday’s edition of Swedish business daily Dagens Industri, the paper identified its own coverage of “inappropriate investments at Alecta, Folksam and the Swedish Pensions Agency” as being meant by the phrase Skandia used in its questionnaire.

When IPE asked Munter if “the autumn’s media reporting on questionable pension investments” referred to Alecta, Munter replied: “Yes, including the whole set up of this integral section of the occupational pensions market, in parts lacking in transparency.”

He added: “We are clearly seeing that this type of event damages trust in pensions, in the system and in the industry as such.”

“In this case, we see that the reporting hits confidence in the entire pension system, and it’s not so surprising because occupational pensions are such an incredibly important part of the individual’s total pension,” he said.

In October, Skandia’s chief executive officer called on Swedish employers to change the occupational pension system that it said perpetuates and increases dominance of Alecta, with whom it competes for business.

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