Belgian pension funds generated an average investment return of 6% for 2017, up from 5.1% in 2016, according to the Belgian industry association PensioPlus.Investment returns averaged 6.8% a year since 1985, the association added.PensioPlus said: “Last year was characterised by strong economic growth, while central banks maintained their policy of quantitative easing [QE]. These two factors led to stock market climbs and consistently low interest rates. Equally notable in 2017 was the strong performance by the euro.”The return was calculated on a weighted average basis from a sample of 58 schemes with combined assets of €17.6bn, out of a total €29.8bn assets under management in the second pillar. At end-2017, Belgian pension funds had allocated 43% of their assets to fixed income, 38% to shares, with 11% in alternatives and 6% in real estate.While equity allocations remained roughly the same as the previous year, allocations to fixed income showed a slight fall. However, the percentage held in alternatives – such as insurance, infrastructure, private equity and convertible bonds – rose from 7% in 2016.PensioPlus said that, in 2018, it expected the European Central Bank’s QE policy to be phased out, leading to a risk of asset prices overheating and higher inflation in the long term. Meanwhile, stock market volatility could increase.The organisation warned: “Since pension funds have as much as 43% invested in debt, if their investment strategy remains unchanged, any increase in interest rates could have a negative effect on future returns.”However, it pointed out that stress tests carried out by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) showed that Belgium’s pension funds continued to be adequately funded.PensioPlus said: “EIOPA’s study shows that Belgian pension funds are resistant to stress, both in periods of crisis when stock markets are falling sharply, and when the long-term interest rate is falling.”Meanwhile, with 19 pan-European pension funds already based in Belgium, the country is forging ahead with its ambition to triple second pillar pension assets under management to €100bn by 2025, 30% of which would be linked to pension assets of multinational companies.
The Blues lifted the Premier League trophy following Sunday’s 3-1 win over Sunderland and won the Capital One Cup in March for Mourinho’s first trophies of his second spell at the club. Now the 52-year-old self-proclaimed Special One has told Blues fans to expect another celebration next May. Cech did not touch on his future when he addressed the fans. “We are all blue so we are all the same,” he said. With Drogba going and Cech possibly leaving, captain John Terry could be the last survivor of the 2004/05 squad which delivered Chelsea’s first title in 50 years. Terry, who played every Premier League minute this season, has signed a new contract and wishes to stay on for some time, but knows the time will come when he must say goodbye, too. The 34-year-old said: “It’s my best season (and) I’m delighted to still be here. “I’m going to be sad to go, but one day it will come to an end.” Mourinho said over the public address system: “Thank you for everything, for all your support. “Book another place for the parade next season. I hope we can give you that.” Mourinho then attempted to sing a Chelsea anthem, but apparently did not know the words. “Blue is the colour, la, la, la, la,” he sang. The departing Didier Drogba soaked up the acclaim on the first of three buses which took Chelsea players staff and owner Roman Abramovich from Stamford Bridge along Fulham Broadway and King’s Road. The European Youth League and FA Youth Cup-winning squad were also present. The parade, which took place in front of an estimated 70,000 people, many of whom threw celery as part of a strange Chelsea tradition, paused at Eel Brook Common before returning to Stamford Bridge. Among the songs was one led by John Obi Mikel about Petr Cech, who has one year remaining on his contract but has been linked with a move after being displaced after 10 years as first-choice goalkeeper. “Petr Cech we want you to stay,” sang Mikel. Jose Mourinho told Chelsea supporters to pencil a date in their diary for another victory parade next season after Monday’s open-top bus procession through west London. Press Association