Money being put into private pension funds at record high
Published 13/06/2014 | 02:30
The amount of money put into private pension funds has hit a record high.
The growth in retirement funds comes after years of bad news on the pensions front – with collapsing defined benefit schemes, crashing investment values and low numbers saving for their retirement.
Now the Irish Association of Pensions Funds (IAPF) says the total amount held by workers in private pension funds hit €91.5bn last year, up 12pc from the 2012 figure.
A strong rise in share values held in funds was the main reason for the jump in the size of workers' collective pension pots.
The total saved for pensions had hit a low of €63.5bn in 2008, when retirement funds here had the largest losses in the western world.
But the bounce back has been strong, chief executive of the IAPF Jerry Moriarty said.
Most of the money is still in traditional defined benefit schemes, where the pension paid is a proportion of the final salary and based on the years of service. However, 500,000 people have a defined contribution scheme, the pensions body said.
Some €33bn in private pension funds is now in defined contribution schemes. The pension from such a scheme is based on the amount of money invested and the growth of the funds up to retirement.
Mr Moriarty said the investment returns for the money in defined contribution schemes was lower last year because much of the savings is held in cash, as opposed to equities, bonds or commodities.
"Defined contribution pension savers – of which there are over 500,000 in this country –are potentially losing out on thousands in retirement by leaving a high portion of their savings 'invested' in very low or negatively yielding schemes.
"While savers have legitimate concerns about investment losses, leaving savings in cash over the long-term will erode the value of those savings as inflation will be greater than any return and will eat into the real value of those savings," he said.
Defined contribution schemes, where the individual members make investment choices, continue to hold 17.3pc of savings in cash. This is compared with 5.6pc of defined benefit investments in cash.
"While many people in defined contribution arrangements are not investing enough, it is important that the money they have invested is growing for them," added Mr Moriarty.