Q1 Was a Bad Quarter for Pension Investors, Says Willis Towers Watson Report

All regions aside from Brazil had negative investment returns.

Pensions around the world had a rough first quarter, according to a new Willis Towers Watson report. The report lists the average returns and liability increases of Brazil, Canada, the Eurozone, Japan, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S. U.K. pensions took the biggest hit in Q1, with an average negative investment return of 9.9%.

Discount rate benchmarks increased this quarter in all regions. Brazil has the highest average discount rate of 9.87%, followed by the U.S. and Canada with 3.93% and 3.92% respectively. For most countries, the increased discount rate combined with decreasing returns resulted in liability values decreasing significantly as well. The only exception to this was Brazil, which had an increased liability value of 0.7%.

In the United States, the benchmark domestic equity portfolio decreased by 4.8%, international equity decreased by 5.9%, and domestic fixed income decreased by 5.2%. Overall, the benchmark portfolio decreased by an average of 5.0%. This is in sharp contrast to the preceding 12 months, during which the benchmark grew by 4.8% on average.

In Brazil, the main driver of high performance was domestic public equity, which returned 14.6%. This was a dramatic increase compared to the average 4.1% returns achieved in the preceding 12 months. Nevertheless, liabilities in the country still increased because benchmark discount rates increased by 16 basis points.

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