The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced that its pension fund “has been brought out of a deficit position” and is being transferred to Profond, a collective pension fund institution that manages more than 3 billion Swiss francs in assets under contracts with nearly 1,700 Swiss employers.
Reasons for the pension fund’s deficit have included the global financial crisis beginning in 2008 and a growing imbalance between retired members drawing income from the pension plan and active members who contribute payments to the fund’s balance. Retirees currently represent approximately 70 percent of members, the WCC said in a news release.
“Profond has the capacity for the long-term management of our retirement benefits under the newly defined contributions pension scheme,” said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary. “Both staff and retirees should experience uninterrupted service during the transition,” he added.
The WCC pension fund was stabilized in March 2012 through an extraordinary contribution by the WCC of 24 million francs, covering the existing deficit. This contribution secured the retirement benefits of staff and retirees and made possible the agreement to transfer responsibility for the fund to Profond.
The extraordinary contribution was made possible by a loan to the WCC from the Co-op Bank in Switzerland.
Tveit said that WCC leadership will now turn its attention to financial opportunities related to Geneva-area real estate owned by the council. “We have engaged in a development partnership with a leading Swiss contractor, Implenia Development,” he added.
“I am very excited about the move to Profond and the next steps we will take in the further development of WCC assets,” Tveit concluded.
The WCC is an ecumenical fellowship of churches that brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries. It works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.