Sunday, September 16, 2007

Valuation of Swiss IORPs

Well known Swiss accounting and pensions expert Carl Helbling has a highly relevant piece on the valuation of Swiss pension schemes. In it, he comes to a rather disturbing conclusion: "Accounting standards IFRS and Swiss GAAP FER are too undifferentiated and can only be a limited basis for valuation [of pensions]." He lists a substantive number of instances, where, for legal reasons, apparent over- or underfundings of Swiss plans cannot be utilised as expected economically. Thus, accounting numbers may be substantially different from effective values.

Now, this is not exactly news as IAS 19 is hardly known to reflect economic reality thanks to its built-in shortcomings. But the instances listed do not even appear to be related to IAS 19 features to start with, but rather to what needs to be considered as accounting artefacts in the light of (legal) reality. One wonders how such numbers can be presented as true and fair?

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