SWITZERLAND - Figures released by the supervisory authorities of the cantons of Solothurn, Basel-Land and Basel-City suggest only 32% of local pensionskassen are underfunded.

The three cantons in the north-west of Switzerland are among the smaller regions but between them they supervise 329 pensionskassen, of which 300 have already filed their 2008 reports with the authorities.

According to their figures, 23.7% of the pensionskassen are underfunded with funding levels between 90% and 99% and only 9.4% of the schemes have a funding level of less than 90%.

These statistics paint quite a different picture of the financial situation of Swiss pensionskassen than, for example, the latest Swisscanto findings which showed over 74% of schemes to be underfunded. (See earlier IPE story: Bulk of Swiss schemes now underfunded)

That said, the three cantons account for only a very small sample of the Swiss second pensions pillar and other supervisory authorities are expected to release their data over the next months.

"The conference of cantonal supervisors will give out information in autumn" said Christoph Ryter, head of the Swiss pension fund association ASIP.

All pensionskassen had until June 30 to report their funding status and - where applicable -provide  a list of recovery measures to the authorities.

"In former years, this deadline could be postponed if the pensionskasse could explain why, but this option was cancelled this year for underfunded schemes, according to the conference of cantonal supervisors," explained Ryter.

Various reasons were given for the large discrepancy between figures on funding levels from the supervisors and others as compiled in polls or via extrapolations including those by the government. (See earlier IPE-story: CHF350m needed as special payment from Swiss employers)

"The most important reason is that the supervisory authorities have data on the whole spectrum of pensionskassen," explained Peter Wirth, head of the second pillar platform "Vorsorgeforum", in a newsletter.

This means the authorities' figures should also include smaller pensionskassen which traditionally are less keen to take part in corporate surveys.

And Wirth stressed that if the data released by the supervisors was weighted to show how many members were affected by the underfunding the gloomy picture could in fact be more like that painted in earlier polls.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Julie Henderson on + 44 (0)20 7261 4602 or email julie.henderson@ipe.com