Russia’s non-state pension funds (NPFs) returned a weighted average of 9% year to date in the first quarter of 2016, according to sector regulator Bank of Russia (CBR).
Returns ranged from 16.97% to -6.81%, with 38 of the 60 NPFs currently licensed for mandatory second-pillar fund operations outstripping the inflation rate of 8.7%.
Pensions savings grew by 74.2% year on year to RUB1,997.4bn (€25.6bn), equivalent to 2.4% of GDP.
Pension reserves grew by 10.5% to RUB 1,020.3bn, and the number of insured by 33.2% to 29.4m.
For the first time, the volume of savings in the NPF system exceeded that managed by the State Management Trust Company for state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB).
Over the period, VEB’s expanded portfolio assets fell by 17.2% to RUB1,781bn.
However, its return for the quarter totalled 11.7%, a result exceeded by only 18 of the NPFs.
According to the CBR, the continuing recovery of Russia’s financial markets contributed to the positive results generated by the majority of funds, while corporate bonds accounted for the biggest share of NPF portfolios.
The substantial growth in member and assets achieved by the NPFs was due largely to last year’s campaign to attract the so-called ‘silent ones’, who had earlier invested by default at VEB, as well as inflows unfrozen from the second half of 2013.
These activities were, however, restricted to those funds that had converted to joint-stock status and signed up to the Deposit Insurance Agency’s guarantee scheme.
As of the end of March 2016, 37 funds had signed up to the scheme, with a further two joining since.
The 33 NPFs registered as of the end of 2015 received a total RUB259bn in unfrozen contributions.
Those funds that fail to comply with these two requirements will be barred from offering compulsory pensions insurance, while the DIA-registered funds will, for the time being, only be able to increase their assets through investment returns and poaching clients from each other.
Neither the finance ministry nor the CBR has confirmed widespread reports that the government plans to extend the moratorium on the NPFs receiving the 6% mandatory pensions contribution, and initiated in 2014, into 2017.
The Non-State Pension Fund Association (ANPF), the second pensions body to register as a pensions self-regulatory organisation, recently estimated that the 2014-16 moratorium would result in a 10.5% decrease in future pension payments for members and a RUB1.7trn loss in long-term investments for the economy.