echo interview with Vera Kupper Staub, President of the Supervisory Commission for Occupational Pension Plans (OAK BV)
elipsLife echo: Ms. Kupper Staub, the primary goal of the OAK BV is to strengthen confidence in occupational pension plans. This confidence now seems battered, to say the least. Or how else can you explain why retirement provisioning has long been such a worrisome topic for Swiss citizens?
Vera Kupper Staub: The AHV’s financing difficulties are certainly more pronounced in the population than those confronting the 2nd pillar. That said, the 2nd pillar stokes concern as well, especially since there’s an urgent need to lower the currently applicable conversion rate. In contrast, surveys conducted by pension funds among their policyholders reveal a different picture: Trust in one's own pension fund hasn’t suffered. So apparently people distinguish between the general topic of retirement provisioning and their own pension fund.
OAK BV was established on Jan. 1, 2012, more than 25 years after the introduction of occupational pension plans in Switzerland. Were irregularities in the handling of pension assets the reason for the creation of OAK BV?
The BVG, as the law governing pension funds, is a federal statute. However, the supervision of pension funds is regulated on a cantonal basis. Consequently, since many funds operate throughout Switzerland, the cantonal supervision to which they’re subject is often almost random. In the meantime, many cantons have joined forces, so that today we have a total of eight supervisory regions. However, these supervisory authorities haven’t been able to reach agreement on certain issues. The handling of partial liquidations would be one case in point. The founding of the OAK BV was consequently not the result of irregularities in the handling of pension assets, but rather driven by the desire for uniform application of underlying legal principles.
How would you describe OAK BV’s tasks?
It has three areas of responsibility: First, we’re the supervisory authority for the eight regional supervisory bodies, ensuring they perform their duties in a materially uniform manner. Second, we’re the licensing authority for the pension funds’ actuarial experts. We’re authorised to issue instructions both to them and the auditors. And third, we’re the regulatory authority for the investment foundations and the security and contingency funds. In other words, we oversee those pension funds that accept employers with their insured persons who can’t otherwise be accommodated.