The investment industry and policymakers must co-ordinate efforts to promote funded retirement savings and improve financial literacy to ensure that billions of people can live comfortably in their later years and, in the process, ease the fiscal pressure on governments. Financially-literate individuals are more likely to make better-informed financial decisions and to understand the benefits of long-term investments.
To foster funded retirement saving, policymakers must provide incentives – such as innovative tax measures and pro-active regulation of disclosures and plan design –including allowing access to the diversified range of investments that funds offer.
Those are the key messages of a report ‘Better Pensions, Better Lives: How investment funds can help individuals saving for retirement and reduce the fiscal pressures on governments’, by the International Investment Funds Association (IIFA), which represents the global regulated funds industry. This report is the result of a collective contribution from the 18 members of the Pensions Working Committee of the IIFA, including representatives from EFAMA and EFAMA member associations.
José Carlos Doherty, chair of the IIFA, said: “State pensions are increasingly under strain and it is widely recognized that state pensions will not be able to provide the benefits of the past. The growing emphasis on funded pensions should, in time, ease the pressure on households and government fiscal accounts alike.”
Claude Kremer, chair of the IIFA’s Pensions Working Committee, said: “Individual account-based retirement saving is a powerful tool in the hands of savers, when incentives, plan design, and investor engagement work together. This report provides all the evidence that national or supra-national policymakers, regulators and government officials need to improve their pensions systems and encourage their locally-domiciled companies and their citizens to use account-based retirement savings plans.”
Bernard Delbecque, Senior Director at EFAMA commented further: “The report is unique in combining the experience and expertise of national funds associations across Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and South America. It highlights the positive role that investment funds, and the asset management industry as a whole, can play in helping people diversify their sources of retirement wealth and support a funded pensions world.”
The key findings and recommendations from the report are:
- Education is critical to promoting retirement security. Financial education around investment basics and the importance of saving for retirement is already taking place through a range of channels (e.g., schools, universities, governments, regulators, financial services firms) and formats (e.g., pamphlets, seminars, webinars, websites, interactive tools). Increasingly, governments, employers, plan sponsors, and financial services firms are employing technology to engage savers and tailor educational messages to individuals. Financial education efforts must be sustained and stepped up.
- Policymakers must ensure that incentives are in place. Targeted tax incentives encourage citizens to contribute to defined contribution (DC) schemes and personal pension plans. Plan design features, such as automatic enrolment and life-cycling default investment strategies, play a key role in attracting new retirement savers.
- Funds help pension savers build wealth. Investment funds offer professionally-managed, cost-effective, diversified investment solutions to help savers achieve their financial goals. By providing asset allocation and diversification across sectors, regions and asset classes, including access to alternative investments and ESG-focused strategies, funds can help savers to build stronger future retirement income.
- Funds are robustly governed. Strong levels of governance are incorporated into the regulated investment industry in jurisdictions across the world, protecting pension savers from theft and fraud. Investment industry professionals have recognised qualifications which facilitate expert investment management, and good operational management too. Across the world, the fund industry is highly-regulated, and funds are structured to comply with prescribed investment, operational and ethical rules.
- Funds are easy to access. Investment funds are readily available for investors to buy in nearly all countries. They have low minimum investment thresholds and their costs are constantly falling thanks to competition between fund managers and the sheer scale of the investment industry. Funds are simple for investors to buy and are transparent – giving investors regular updates on where their money is invested and how it is performing.
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Notes to editors:
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About the IIFA
The mission of The International Investment Funds Association (IIFA) is to promote the protection of investment fund investors, to facilitate the growth of the investment funds industry internationally, to act as a medium for the advancement of understanding of the investment fund business around the world, and to encourage adherence to high ethical standards by all participants in the industry.
Membership of the IIFA and participation in the annual conference are open to any country with a recognized investment funds association or an identifiable investment funds industry and an appropriate representative.
About the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA)
EFAMA is the voice of the European investment management industry, which manages over EUR 30 trillion of assets on behalf of its clients in Europe and around the world. We advocate for a regulatory environment that supports our industry’s crucial role in steering capital towards investments for a sustainable future and providing long-term value for investors. More information available at www.efama.org.