The familiar orange envelopes tell Swedes how much their pension is worth. Photo: Maja Suslin/Scanpix

Stock market funds mean big risks says analyst

"It has lost credibility among savers"
4:31 min

More and more of the money saved against retirement in Sweden is being invested on the stock markets, and an independent analyst says that this could cause a major fall in pensions payments if there is another major financial or economic crash.

From a system where most of the money was put into in government bonds, or other stable investments, Swedish workers can now choose a range of different funds, operating around the world.

The Swedish state-run PPM pension saving system is compulsory, 2.5 per cent of a worker's income has to be put into investment funds, which are chosen by the saver.

This means that the payment for a pensioner here in Sweden, can be determined by how things are going for traders in London, Tokyo, or New York, as they trade equity - stocks and shares.

Peter Malmqvist is an analyst with over 20 years of experience, and chair of the Swedish Society of Financial Analysts.

He says that past events - such as the Swedish banking crisis of the 1990s, the internet companies bubble of the early 2000s and the past few years' financial crisis - show that the value of investments can drop sharply, by well over half, and that a similar crash will probably come in the next twenty years.

In the future a much bigger proportion of pensions money will be linked to the stock markets. Peter Malmqvist says that, while in the long run the stock market may go up, in the short term, it is very likely that crashes could mean misery for pensioners.

Fredrik Jahn is the chair of the Swedish municipal pensioners' federation. He says that Peter Malmqvist's warning is serious - but that that right now only a relatively small proportion of pension savings are invested in stocks.

Fredrik Jahn does agree, however, that the system of funds is too complicated, and says that about 75 per cent of savers simply do not make any active choice of funds.

"It has lost credibility with pension savers." He says that his organisation, along with other pensioners' groups, want the government to abolish the PPM system and transfer all the money into old-fashioned AP funds.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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