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Possibility of variable pensions sparks heated debate in Switzerland

first_imgOn the topic of the technical parameters that would help save costs for Swiss pension funds, most respondents cited less regulation.Werner Hertzog, managing director at Aon Hewitt Switzerland, to IPE: “For the first time, they are talking about variable pension payouts or mandatory lump-sum payments upon retirement for parts of the assets.”The data collected by the consultancy showed that the average performance over the last seven years – 2.2% – covered just 80% of the required returns, yet the average pension payout level remained the same.Hertzog said adding a variable pension element to a basic fixed pension was “one possibility to put an end to these transfers” of active members’ assets to retirees.“But it might not be the right solution for all Pensionskassen,” he added.Hertzog said he was convinced that a variable scheme would become “a standard in the above-mandatory segment sooner or later”, especially if pension funds of public organisations such as the SBB were introducing it.”Many Swiss pension experts are sceptical whether the SBB will defy unions and follow through with its proposal to introduce a variable pension element in future contracts. At the energy pension fund PKE, which is introducing a variable element from next year, three-quarters of the active members were in favour of the measure.Ronald Schnurrenberger, managing director at PKE, added: “They are aware it will be themselves who will have to live with this variable pension element of 10% of the payout – we were surprised.”But Brigitte Schmid, managing director of the Swiss Re Pensionskasse, is “completely against” the model, as “you cannot be sure it will really also lead to an increase of the pension payout at times”.“People will feel something is taken from them,” she pointed out, adding that it might be better to lower the technical parameters further.At Swiss Re, she is “rather” looking into a mandatory lump-sum payment on retirement as opposed to a life-long pension payout – “if such a measure is introduced at all”.Markus Hübscher, managing director at SBB Pensionskasse, said the debate always made it sound as if the whole pension payout would be variable in future – “but 90% or even more are fixed”.He argued that Pensionskassen “should not make promises they cannot keep”.According to Hertzog, variable pension payouts can be calibrated in different ways – for example, as an absolute means of last resort if they are combined with an already very low discount rate.“Pensionskassen,” Hertzog said, “should use the flexibilities they still have within the legal framework, and a variable pension element is not about cutting benefits, it’s about risk-sharing of retirees.”For more on Switzerland’s flexible pension payouts, see the December issue of IPE magazine. The topic of variable pension payouts generated a heated debate among delegates at the presentation of this year’s Aon Hewitt pension fund survey in Zurich.This year’s survey, Aon Hewitt’s sixth, canvassed more than 160 Pensionskassen, with more than CHF237bn (€193bn) in combined assets under management.According to Marianne Frei, actuarial expert at the consultancy, the shift from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) continues apace.She also highlighted further cuts in technical parameters such as the discount rate ‘technischer Zins’ and the conversion rate ‘Umwandlungssatz’ in those pension funds managing above-mandatory contributions.last_img read more

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Jamaica names Williams in Doha team despite positive dope test

first_imgBy Kayon RaynorKINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – Briana Williams was yesterday named in Jamaica’s team for the world athletics championships in Doha despite facing a hearing into a positive doping test.The inclusion of the world Under-20 double sprint champion in Jamaica’s 55-member squad is contingent on the outcome of her disciplinary hearing, which is set for September 23-25 in Kingston.“We have entered Briana Williams in the 100m and the 4x100m relay, subject of course to clearance,” Lincoln Eatmon, the second vice-president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), told a news conference in Kingston.“Jonielle Smith is the reserve for the 100m and is a part of the 4×100 relay pool,” he added.Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and three-time 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who are both set to contest the 100m, 200m and sprint relay, headline Jamaica’s team for the global championships, which get underway on September 27.With Danielle Williams winning the 100m hurdles Diamond Trophy to secure a wildcard entry to the world championships, JAAA has named four athletes to contest the sprint hurdles, with Janeek Brown, Megan Tapper and Yanique Thompson completing the lineup.Akeem Bloomfield, who only contested the 200m at the Jamaican trials in June but finished third in the 400m final at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels, in a time of 44.67 seconds, will contest one-lap event in Doha.Diamond League finalist Nathon Allen, who also missed the trials due to illness, has been named as a reserve for the 400m.Yohan Blake, 100m World champion in 2011, and Omar McLeod, the defending sprint hurdles champion, headline the men’s team, which also includes Commonwealth discus champion Fedrick Dacres.last_img read more

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Will coronavirus cancel college football in 2020? COVID-19 updates, key dates & season alternatives

first_imgThe spread of COVID-19 in the United State has led to a complete halt of sporting events in the country and has prompted questions whether the 2020 college football season will take place.   Alabama coach Nick Saban was among many FBS coaches who have been asked that question this week.    Riley also is among the coaches who is not going to put an absolute start date on the season. That’s part of the uncertainty because of the spread and the priority to get back to normal lives in the United States.  That extends way past football. When the time is right, however …  “I don’t know that we can put on a limit,” Riley said. “Football, just purely the game, can be played anytime, anywhere. I think we all have to be open-minded about it.” “I never really answer hypothetical questions,” Saban said. “I’m sure that everybody’s going to want me to speculate on what’s going to happen in the future, and nobody really knows.”  With that uncertainty in mind, here are all the factors to consider when assessing the potential for a college football season.MORE: 10 questions that remain unanswered without spring footballNo football in 2020?ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit evoked a strong reaction when he said he would be “shocked” if there was college football in 2020.   There more than 257,390 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Timetables for when the virus could peak and spike again stretch into the summer months, and several sporting events have been shut down into July.   The outbreak of COVID-19 needs to be suppressed before college football is even a consideration.  Herbstreit’s comments point to the worst-case scenario for the sport, and the financial ramifications would be significant for the athletic departments given the revenue the sport has generated.   “I believe it’s in everyone’s best interest, when it’s safe and right to do, that we play a football season,” Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour told the Reading Eagle this week. “We’ve talked about the emotional and the moral piece for communities across this country. Then, obviously there’s a revenue and a financial piece to it.”  That is why there are contingency plans in place.   Important dates to consider   Spring football was wiped out because of the spread of COVID-19, and the SEC canceled its May spring meetings in Destin, Fla.   The recruiting calendar also has been impacted. The NCAA extended the dead period until May 31. That means college coaches cannot have face-to-face interactions with recruits until June 1.  Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley points to June 1 as one of the important dates to consider for the possibility of the season.   “The next realistic time most people are going to be looking at is the summer period and whether or not you have camps,” Riley said. “Whether or not you are able to have prospects on campus. That’s going to be the next realistic possibility. What we do the rest of the summer will probably hinge on how that plays out.”     Fall camps typically open in late July and early August, and the first games on the FBS schedule are Aug. 29. That includes an overseas game between Notre Dame and Navy in Dublin, Ireland.  Those dates will be impacted on whether the threat of COVID-19 has been suppressed in the summer.  Alternative plans   Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is among the coaches who believe there will be a college football season in 2020.  “That’s the best-case scenario, and I think that’s what’s going to happen,” Swinney said in a teleconference Friday. “I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing.”This is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy. We’ve sent a rover out on Mars and walked on the moon. This is the greatest country. We’ve created an iPhone where I can sit here and talk to people in all these different places. We’ve got the smartest people in the world. We’re going to rise up and kick this thing in the teeth and get back to our lives.”That might be the case, but there are still other factors to consider if COVID-19 cases are still spreading.  Some alternatives include:  Games with no fans Before sports were suspended across the United States. That was a measure taken before several college basketball conference tournaments.  Would a college football game be feasible without fans in the stands?  “It would be very, very unique,” Riley said. “If that what it comes to do for games to still be able to be played and guys to still be able to play and then for our fans to connect and be a part of it virtually, that may be where we could end it.”   Shortened season  If games in September are canceled, college football could take steps toward shortening the season to seven or eight games.  Would that be strictly a conference schedule? That is one of the logistical hurdles given the nature of college football rivalries.  “Well, you know we play eight conference games, so there would need to be at least eight weeks. Here in our state there would need to be nine, because we would need to play South Carolina,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said. Clemson-South Carolina, of course, is a nonconference game. Later start date  College football also could consider the possibility of a winter or spring schedule is COVID-19 spread extends into September, October and even November.  That is yet another option that require logistics. Riley was among the coaches who was asked about how long it would take to get a football team game ready.  “We could have 15 to 20 practices and be ready to go play, without a doubt,” Riley said.    last_img read more

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