Friday 9 December 2016

Pensions meltdown puts hundreds of funds at risk

Low interest rates and tough regulations to spark closures

Published 19/11/2016 | 02:30

'A funding crisis for schemes in the private sector means the deficits in them have more than doubled to €7bn, raising questions about whether more of them will reduce pension benefits or simply close' (stock photo)
'A funding crisis for schemes in the private sector means the deficits in them have more than doubled to €7bn, raising questions about whether more of them will reduce pension benefits or simply close' (stock photo)

Hundreds more company pension schemes are set to shut due to low interest rates and regulatory rules, experts have warned.

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Analysts representing pension savers say the rules were creating a false sense that schemes were in more trouble than they were already in.

Gerry Moriarty, of the Irish Association of Pension Funds, said this will likely lead to a situation where employers will choose to invest in their businesses rather than pumping more money into defined benefit schemes with big deficits.

Some 750 defined benefit schemes have been shut down in the past 10 years alone.

This represents six out of 10 of these plans which were prevalent in larger companies and semi-states, according to the Pensions Authority.

There are some 600,000 people with defined benefit pensions, which pay a set level of retirement income based on a worker's final salary and years of service.

But a funding crisis for schemes in the private sector means the deficits in them have more than doubled to €7bn, raising questions about whether more of them will reduce pension benefits or simply close.

Mr Moriarty said that along with large numbers of private sector company schemes closing, many have cut what they pay out in retirement.

He said: "A lot of schemes will close. We have an artificial situation due to bond yields and regulatory rules."

Irish Independent

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