Silver surfer celebrating 50 years
Judge’s comment: “Advice and communication goes far beyond most pension schemes and the use of technology to appeal to new younger members is impressive”
Currently Iceland’s fifth largest, the €1bn Almenni Pension Fund (Almenni) is committed to excellence in pension services. Although it is an open fund, Almenni also serves as an industry-wide scheme for several sectors, including architects, doctors, musicians, technicians and tour guides. Indeed, Almenni’s current form results from a merger of nine pension fundsinto one. The oldest, the former Icelandic Technicians Pension Fund, dates back to 1965, so Almenni is celebrating 50 years in business this year.
The backbone and the main source of pride for Almenni is the defined contribution hybrid strategy it introduced in 1998, which continues to offer the best of both worlds, with a third of the mandatory pension contribution paid into a private account and two-thirds into a mutual insurance fund.
Investment-wise, the fund offers members a variety of investment choices for their individual accounts, ranging from a long term 70% equity portfolio to a short term low-risk savings account portfolio. Members can start withdrawing from the private account once they turn 60 and the assets they accumulate may be passed on to beneficiaries.
The private account framework offers a total of six portfolios with different equity and fixed income allocations to reflect different risk tolerances and profiles as part of Almenni’s life-cycle strategy based on its members’ age. A mutual insurance fund offers the security of life-long regular retirement income as well as other benefits.
The performance of Almenni’s portfolios in the past few years has been very good, despite a challenging environment with currency controls imposed by the government. Almenni has been able to maintain its solid returns by managing a diversified set of portfolios that are split between both domestic and overseas securities across various asset classes.
Almenni was the first Icelandic pension fund to introduce age-related portfolios based on a life-cycle approach and a default option, Lifetime Track, commemced at the same time. When members choose this option their holdings are automatically transferred between the various portfolios in accordance with their age and without additional cost. Lifetime Track is designed to simplify investing for members and follows the principle that members should seek to reduce risk and consolidate their savings as they grow older.
Almenni takes communication seriously and is eager to share with members all relevant information about pension rights, the fund, its holdings and any relevant developments. This has been a continual area of innovation for Almenni and the way it embraced two recent challenges concerning member services and technology are prime examples.
The first regards Almenni’s online facilities. The fund recently expanded its internet portal with a new advanced module offering enhanced graphics, planning and pensions explanations as well as the ability for members to make changes to their individual plans online.
Aimed at younger members, the other also uses a bespoke website, which is complemented by an animated commercial with a humorous explanation about the importance of taking out a pension, while highlighting how Almenni differs from its peers.
Both the new online service and the website for younger members are designed to be used on a variety of devices such as tablets and smart phones as well as regular computers. The shift towards tablets and other mobile devices for web browsing has been apparent over the last few years and as a result the designs, graphics and functions of Almenni’s websites are responsive and scalable across all devices.
Almenni Pension Fund
Founded in 1965
Hybrid industry-wide and multi-employer arrangement
- Active: 12,271
- Retirees: 1,571
- Deferred: 27,682
Market value: €1.06bn
Performance as a percentage:
- one year: 9.8
- Hybrid open-ended scheme covering several sectors and private clients
- Innovative life-cycle strategy was first in Iceland
- Sophisticated communications policy making full use of modern technology
- Fonds de Compensation Luxembourg
- Frjálsi Pension Fund Iceland
- Ravi Khanna
- Philippos Mannaris
- Martine van Peer