SPMS, the €10bn occupational pension fund for medical consultants in the Netherlands, returned more than 10% on investments over the first six months of the year.
It attributed its performance largely to the effect of falling long-term interest rates on its 55% fixed income portfolio.
The return, however, was relative, as liabilities increased by even more.
The scheme’s funding fell by 2 percentage points to 117%, as of the end of June.
According to its 2015 annual report, SPMS decided to introduce infrastructure debt as a new asset class with a target portfolio of 5%, in a bid to diversify its portfolio.
The new investment category is to come at the expense of the full allocation to inflation-linked bonds, as well as 2 percentage points of the scheme’s stake in hedge funds, which is to be reduced to 7%.
Jeroen Steenvoorden, director at SPMS, pointed out that the risk profile of infrastructure debt was lower than that of direct infrastructure investments.
The expected return, however, is also lower, according to Steenvoorden, who estimated that performance would range between 2.5% and 3%.
He said the board still needed to decide whether the investment was to come as a mandate or through a fund, adding that the managers’ selection had not yet been completed.
SPMS reported a net annual return of 0.9%, chiefly due to considerable losses on its full hedge of the currency risk on the US dollar, Japanese yen and British pound, which all appreciated relative to the euro.
The pension fund for medical consultants also made a 0.7% loss on its interest hedge as a consequence of the 0.2% interest rate rise last year.
It said property delivered 11.7%, in particular thanks to listed real estate in Europe and the US, which returned 19.4% and 19.9%, respectively.
Equity returned 8.4%.
The scheme attributed the 4.4% return on fixed income largely to US credit (11.2%), emerging market debt (4.7%) and inflation-linked bonds (6.8%)
Government bonds produced 0.3%, while the pension fund lost 1.5% on European credit.
Last year, SPMS lowered its risk profile by replacing 8% of its equity portfolio with an equal percentage of government bonds, while raising its interest hedge from 70% to 78% of liabilities.
In its opinion, the adjustment of the interest hedge offsets a slower improvement of its financial position once interest rates rise again.
SPMS posted costs for asset management and transactions of 0.61% and 0.18%, respectively, and said it had spent €544 per participant for pensions administration.
The scheme carries out an occupational pension plan for 7,500 self-employed medical consultants and has 6,700 pensioners.