THE PENSION LEVY – FUND MANAGERS UNDER FIRE
And he hasn’t gone away, you know. Former Sindo business editor turned TD Shane Ross pens a caustic piece for his former employer expanding on his very public denunciations of pension fund managers in the dail chamber during the week.
“Last week we were being brainwashed. We were constantly told that the ‘pensions industry’ was doing its bit for the national finances.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. The pillars of the pensions industry are flourishing, unfazed by the sudden 1% pensions levy. It is the familiar victims of the industry who are now facing their toughest assault.
“Pension parasites, who have fed off the carcass for decades, are being joined by a competing vulture. The Government has stumbled on a new source of sustenance, spotting that there was plenty of flesh left on the neglected corpse. They have arrived late to the pensions feast, but not too late.
“There are now so many predators picking at the carcass that there will soon be little left for the pensioners themselves.”
Thanks to Ross, the spotlight will probably now move this week to the charges imposed by fund managers for administering pensions. As the recently-elected TD said:
”Wickedly cleverly, they charge in percentages. No hourly rates or payment per project for them. Percentages sound small and harmless, but big figures mean big fees. A small percentage of €80bn is still a staggering sum.
The reactions from chiefs of the ‘pensions industry’ were confusing. Some told me that the average management charge was 0.5%, others 1%, others put it as high as 1.5%. Entry charges to some pension schemes were a stunning 5%, plus a 1% annual management charge.”
And what do we get for this ‘expertise’, according to Ross.
“Investigators who take even a cursory look at how these fund managers have performed will be shell-shocked. In the first four months of this year, Ireland’s pension funds have, on average, lost money. Quite an achievement at a time when the main equity markets of the world recovered by over 5%. Even the Irish Stock Market recouped 4.4% in that period.
Their brutal performance is difficult to fathom. Whatever their level of incompetence, how a collection of even half-witted fund managers could so decisively underperform a basket of equities is a mystery. But they did. Less recently on average they trotted in bottom of the OECD national fund managers league.
Over the last 10 years, Irish pension funds have grown by a pathetic 1.2% per annum, embarrassingly outpaced by inflation running at 2.4%. Over three years they have actually lost 1.5% a year, and over five an even bigger 1.7%.”