SWITZERLAND - There are currently far too many Pensionskassen in Switzerland, according to retirement experts speaking at a discussion organised by pension provider B+B Vorsorge.

Switzerland currently has more than 2,500 regulated pension funds managing around CHF600bn (€487bn) in pension assets.

Yet in Zurich earlier this week, Alberto Romaneschi, a freelance consultant, said there were about "2,000 Pensionskassen too many".

Romaneschi added that, for 200 years now, "only" 200 banks were managing large amounts of assets. He said smaller units were less beneficial when it came to investment decisions.

Patrik Schaller, head of pensions at Ernst & Young, pointed out that 100 Pensionskassen were managing 80% of pension assets.

"Smaller Pensionskassen are facing above-average costs," he said.

Katharina Prelicz-Huber, MP of the Green Party and head of public service union VPOD, agreed that having 2,500 Pensionskassen was probably unnecessary, but she warned against a single, consolidated Pensionskasse for all second-pillar assets.

She said the debate should not be about dissolving long-proven, traditional structures that include representatives from employers and employees on pension fund boards. She also said the second pillar should not be mixed with the first pillar.

However, Prelicz-Huber conceded there should be professional experts on pension fund boards, adding that trustees need more training to understand complex investment and legal issues.

Romaneschi agreed the second pillar had become difficult to understand, even for experts. He noted that 110-page decrees were hardly read by anybody in full.

Schaller agreed that simplification was key and demanded more opportunities for young people to participate on pension boards, as they had a different perspective on certain issues.