Informations and abstract
This paper analyzes the costs of third-pillar individual pension plans currently available in Italy, namely pension insurance policies and open pension funds, which are new products in the Italian savings market. For lack of data on annuities, the analysis is limited to the accumulation phase. To evalute costs in terms of the reduction in both the final accumulated pension wealth and the annual rate of return, we use different simulation scenarios, changing the profiles of contributions, the length of participation and the gross returns attainable on financial markets. We find a substantial dichotomy in the market. On one side, open pension funds have moderate costs, close to those of occupational funds, and also to those of voluntary pension plans in other countries. On the other, individual insurance policies are burdened by significantly higher charges. We consider different possible rationales for these costs, including the fact that the market is at a very early stage of development, without reaching a completely satisfactory explanation. Finally, we also study the possible regressive feature of the fee structure and the unfavourable treatment of early withdrawals of private pension assests. Both are indeed present in the majority of products, but their impact is fairly limited.