UK pension funds lose 5% of value in coronavirus scare

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Our Reporter

British funds have lost 5 per cent to 6 percent of their value in five days about three weeks ago, as fears over the impact of coronavirus sent stock markets tumbling around the world.

Before now, employees who were about to retire were looking at their pension statements with some confidence after share prices had hit record highs around the world. Shares in the US tech stocks, in which many UK pension funds are invested, had seemingly been on an ever-upward trajectory.

However, after a week in which global stock markets plunged and predictions that the outbreak could match the financial crash of 2008, imminent retirees are facing a far less certain future, than even a week ago.

Someone in their early 60s with a typical pension pot of around £250,000 has seen its value fall by around £13,000 in five days. Wealthier workers who have accumulated a £1m pot are facing a £50,000-plus loss.

Pension funds typically have 60 per cent to -70 per cent of their investments in stock markets with the rest held in bonds, property, cash and other investments.

Also about three weeks ago, 11 per cent fall in the value of shares in London and an 8 per cent fall in New York and other markets around the world, have resulted in the equivalent loss of value to pension funds.

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Investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown said over the first four days of this week one of the UK’s most popular funds managed by Scottish Widows was down more than 4 per cent.

Employees logging into Legal & General’s default pension scheme were looking at a 4.6 per cent fall in their fund’s value. Another popular fund, Vanguard’s LifeStrategy 60 per cent Equity Fund, was similarly down 4.8 per cent, compared with just a week ago.

Pension funds can take several days to revalue following big share price shifts.