The COVID-19 pandemic remained a dominant factor in 2021. Measures imposed in response to the pandemic, such as border closures, the requirement to work from home, and closures of shops and restaurants – had a serious impact on companies. Baloise also saw this reflected in its occupational pension business. Reduced activity in the market meant that fewer new contracts were sold, but the number of contract terminations also declined. Against this backdrop, the growth recorded by the partially autonomous foundation Perspectiva is very encouraging.
The partially autonomous foundation Perspectiva continued to grow, adding more than 600 new customers. It now has more than 3,600 participating companies and over CHF 1 billion in managed retirement assets. Thanks to the upturn in the financial markets, Perspectiva generated a return of 7.6 per cent. In 2021, an interest rate of 1.5 per cent was paid on retirement assets. This puts Baloise is an ideal position to continue offering its customers a strong pension solution that caters to their needs.
Baloise regards the comprehensive insurance model as a solution that most effectively covers the needs of many customers. This model offers companies the necessary security in relation to occupational pension provision, because under a comprehensive model, the insurer bears the investment risk. The pension fund can thus never experience a cover shortfall, which allows the insured companies to concentrate entirely on their core business. The comprehensive solution is therefore a key component of the product offering. However, challenges in the occupational pension business persist, especially for comprehensive insurance models. The baby boomer generation is approaching retirement age, which throws the problem of inter-generational redistribution into sharp relief. This is one of the reasons why the pension system urgently needs to be reformed. Proposals for reforms that are currently being discussed in the political arena are going in the right direction. The lowering of the statutory minimum conversion rate to 6.0 per cent is a crucial element of the reform. It is paramount that the political process for a reform of the BVG be driven forward at pace and completed successfully.
For the economy and the stock markets, 2021 was a year of recovery. The shortages of materials and supply chain bottlenecks that resulted from surging demand pushed up inflation rates around the world. The debt markets responded with rising yields on long-dated paper. Although the environment remained challenging, Baloise’s occupational pension business generated premium income of CHF 2.3 billion and earnings of CHF 40.2 million in connection with more than 18,900 contracts. The net investment yield achieved in the occupational pension business was a solid 1.69 per cent. The payout rate, which comprises claims, reserves and surpluses, was on a par with the previous year at 93.2 per cent. Once again, a significant proportion of the payout rate was attributable to the recognition of reserves in light of rising life expectancy, low interest rates and, consequently, excessively high conversion rates. Nonetheless, the company was able to allocate CHF 35 million to the surplus fund. Interest on retirement assets was paid at a rate of 1.00 per cent for the compulsory portion and 0.75 per cent for the portion above the income threshold (Überobligatorium).