Global market turmoil caused by the coronavirus has wiped out a year’s growth for Australia’s pensions industry, the world’s fourth-biggest pot of retirement savings.
Assets under management fell 7.7 percent to 2.73 trillion Australian dollars ($1.8 trillion) in the three months to March 31, back to almost the same level it was a year ago, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority data published Tuesday showed. That’s a marked turnaround for an industry that’s used to exponential growth, with 9.5 percent of a worker’s gross salary paid into a retirement fund each month.
The drop came as funds sold stocks and boosted cash holdings in preparation to pay out billions of dollars to members allowed to access their retirement savings early under the government’s emergency response to the virus. APRA regulated pension funds suffered AU$210.7 billion of investment losses during the period, which saw equity markets from Sydney to Hong Kong and London tumble.
Despite a recovery in markets in April, the savings system is set for more falls as rising unemployment crimps the level of mandatory payments into pension funds. Funds have also paid out more than AU$10 billion in early access requests, with more expected.