The CHF33bn (€27bn) BVK Pensionskasse for the Swiss canton of Zurich reported a return of 9% for 2017.
Returns were mainly boosted by equities, which can make up as much as 40% of the pension fund’s portfolio according to its strategic asset allocation.
“The highest results were achieved by equities from emerging markets with a return of 32%,” the BVK noted in a press release.
According to preliminary calculations – the final ones will be available in spring with the annual report – the pension fund has achieved a 100% funding level, up from 92.6% a year before.
“Beyond a target level of 115% the BVK will have the necessary buffers to absorb volatilities on the financial markets,” the fund said. Improvements to benefits would also be possible, it added.
The BVK was among the first Swiss Pensionskassen to make drastic cuts to its technical parameters in 2016 in order to accommodate for increasing longevity and the low interest rate environment.
Despite these cuts many organisations opted to stay with the fund, making the BVK the largest Swiss Pensionskasse by member numbers. The pension fund has 118,800 members, 2.8% more than a year earlier.
However, the pension fund for the federal government and other institutions runs both closed portfolios – which are less flexible in their asset allocation – as well as open ones.
The open funds within Publica make up CHF36bn of its assets and have, among other things, a higher allocation to emerging markets. They returned just over 7% on average.
This is still below the 7.82% calculated by UBS as the market average for Swiss Pensionskassen – “the best result since 2009”, the bank said.
The analysts confirmed that equities were the main driver for performance. On average Pensionskassen have 29.8% of their portfolios invested in equities.
Using a different sample for its calculations, Credit Suisse reported a market average investment return of 8%.
Meanwhile, Swisscanto’s monitor showed a 7.2% return for the market. It also reported that private-sector Pensionskassen were on average 113% funded, compared to 99% for public sector funds.