SWITZERLAND - Funding at Swiss Pensionskassen has returned to levels seen at the end of last year, according to a survey by Swisscanto.

After a slight drop in the second quarter, funding levels appreciated again in the third quarter to 104.7% for private funds and 91.9% for public funds.

Swisscanto said that while public funds remained underfunded, they were "under less pressure" now that both houses of parliament had agreed to set the funding minimum at 80%.

Overall, the funding level of all 419 pension funds in the survey increased from 97.9% to 98.7% quarter-on-quarter.

Swisscanto calculated the average return for Pensionskassen over the first nine months at 1.6%, slightly less than the 1.95% average estimated by Credit Suisse in its Pensionskassen index.

In a more detailed analysis of the index, Credit Suisse noted that larger schemes performed better than smaller ones.

Pensionskassen with assets of more than CHF1bn (€740m) returned 2.37% in the first nine months, while those with less than CHF150m returned 1.81%.

However, over a longer period, the index showed that smaller pension funds were still better off, not having lost as much during the crisis, and that larger funds were appreciating more now.

In other news, Mercer, commenting on the Swiss pension system in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension index, recommended increasing the statutory retirement age and introducing gradual retirement with part-time work while drawing some of the pension.

It also recommended making it compulsory for pension fund members to receive some of their benefits as an income stream rather than a bulk payment.

In the index, Switzerland boasted the second best-performing pensions system in the world, with a score of 75.3, mainly due to a high rating for 'integrity' (83.5).