Insurance Sweden has been accepted as the newest member of PensionEurope, the European pensions industry association announced yesterday, saying the Nordic country was about to become one of the continent’s main pension fund countries following “remarkable” development.

Janwillem Bouma, chair of PensionsEurope, said: “I am delighted that Insurance Sweden have joined PensionsEurope. Sweden has a very strong pension system with a long history in which funded occupational pensions play an important role.

“Together we will promote and secure good pensions for people in Europe,” Bouma said in a statement issued by the Brussels-based industry association yesterday, adding that he was looking forward to working very closely with the group’s new Swedish member.

Insurance Sweden (Svensk Försäkring) announced last week it had applied for membership, saying that although it belonged to Insurance Europe, the new occupational pension regulation in Sweden made membership of PensionsEurope necessary too – so that it could be effective for occupational pension companies.

Sweden’s largest pension providers have been incorporated as life insurers, but the domestic implementation of the EU’s IORP II solvency directive is now giving them the option of transforming into occupational pension companies (tjänstepensionsföretag) – a new type of entity subject to IORP II solvency rules rather than those of the insurance framework Solvency II.

Matti Leppälä, secretary general of PensionsEurope, described the development in Sweden as “remarkable” with some of the biggest pension insurance companies opting to transform into IORPs, and with Insurance Sweden as their national organisation.

“Sweden will soon become one of the main pension fund countries in Europe and PensionsEurope is very happy to have Insurance Sweden in our board of directors advocating strongly for the success of Swedish pension funds and funded pensions in Europe,” he said.  

Six of Insurance Sweden’s members have so far applied to transform into IORPs – a group of firms PensionsEurope said had around €210bn under management.

Christina Lindenius, chief executive officer of Insurance Sweden, said: “With a growing number of occupational pensions companies among our members, Insurance Sweden regards PensionsEurope membership as a basis for remaining an efficient business association.”

She said she looked forward to the association acting constructively in PensionsEurope, contributing with knowledge about the Swedish occupational pensions market.

Swedish occupational pensions were already represented within PensionsEurope by two other Swedish members – the Occupational Pension Fund Association (Tjänstepensionsförbundet) and the Swedish Association of Pension Foundations (SPFA).

But PensionsEurope said the majority of Swedish occupational pensions had been with insurance companies, which are members of Insurance Sweden.

However, the biggest two hitherto life-insurer pension providers – Alecta and AMF – already belonged to PensionsEurope, though only as corporate and supporter members, rather than full members.

Insurance Sweden’s membership of PensionsEurope, which takes effect on 1 January 2022, will bring the total number of national pensions associations affiliated with European lobby to 24.

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