SWEDEN - The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority Finansinspektionen has called for all private pension savers in Sweden to have the right to move their pension savings between pension providers.

“What we are saying quite clearly is that we think there should be right to move pensions for all private pensioners,” said SFSA chief economist Martin Blavarg.

Currently, only private pensioners with new pension contracts have this right.

‘We think that this right should exist and if insurance companies can’t do it themselves, then there should be a change of law in this respect. But this up to the government,” Blavarg told IPE.

However, parts of the Swedish insurance industry are opposed to government intervening in old existing contractual matters between insurance companies and private pensioners, saying contracts should not be allowed to change retrospectively.

“Government and we have accepted this argument until now,” said SFSA chief economist Martin Blavarg. “But we think that consumer rights are stronger.”

Many new and smaller life insurance companies wishing to penetrate the Swedish pensions market would benefit if old contracts could be altered. However, larger companies might not be as optimistic.

“It is good for the larger ones that people can’t move their money and are locked in. But, of course, the new companies would be very happy with the change – it would allow them to compete for the old money,” said Blavarg.

“Some companies that are well-established, well managed and very big would welcome competition,” he added. But those that lack self-confidence might resent the increased competition

“The main risk is, of course, that there is a run from one company, which then has to sell off a lot of assets, and the pensioners that are left may get hurt,” Blavarg told IPE.

However, the move could also stimulate much greater competition in the pensions market.

Until now, the Swedish government has backed the industry argument that contracts between individuals and pension providers should not be changed retrospectively.

According to Blavarg, “It is very difficult to say when the government would make any moves.

“We've also said that if we can see that a large part of the sector voluntarily have introduced the right to move, on fair conditions, we may think that there is no need for a legislative change. We plan to go through the market thoroughly and see how widely the right to move is spread, and what the conditions are. So it may be that the government wait until we've done this,” he added.

Sweden will also have a general election this year, which could also affect political decisions on the matter.

In other news, Standard Life Investments has appointed Åsa Norrie, 38, as investment director for Scandinavia from May 1.

This is a new position on the global fund manager’s expanding European business development team, and follows the appointment last month of Gabriele Schlitt as the firm’s first Frankfurt-based investment director.

Norrie – appointed following an “extensive search and selection process” - joins from Britannic Asset Management, where she was vice president of sales and business development.

Based in Edinburgh, she will work with Standard Life European business development chief Neil McPherson. She will be responsible for the marketing and development of Standard Life Investments’ business in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.