Many years in the making, what is probably the world's first private pension fund for housewives is about to take the stage in Italy. A key plank of Federcasalinghe, the 800,000-strong Italian association of homemakers, the pension fund was launched March 3.
The association, established in 1982, is designed to promote the interests of women who do not work outside the home in Italy.
Explains Claudio Pinna, consultant with Rome-based Adelaide Consulting, "The fund will be much the same as the other industrywide private pension funds in Italy. While Cometa, the metal workers' fund, is designed for 1.2 million workers and boasts some 320,000 members, here I assume we may well be talking about 500,000 potential members." Some 5,000 members had signed on by the end of December.
Each participant in the Fondo Pensione Complementare Famiglia will contribute a minimum of $25 a month to the defined contribution plan, although payments may be deferred, which is not the case with other funds. Fifteen years of contributions at the minimum level would produce a pension worth $75 a month for life. As with the other Italian pension funds, retirement age is considered to be 57. "Contributors can continue paying in as long as they choose," said Mr. Pinna, which is not the case for standard pension plans where one is obliged to retire upon reaching a certain age.
And, in addition to the cash payments, contributors will be able to use points and discounts from either supermarkets or manufacturers of food and non-food items to help build their nest-eggs. Explains Matteo Gasparrini, member of the Rome-based Federcasalinghe, "We have struck deals with some of Italy's leading supermarket chains and producers. Via store cash registers, the discounts will be tracked by Societa Servizi Bancari, Italy's main credit-card processing company, in much the way it tracks other non-cash transactions. Once every three months, SSB will post a cumulative credit to the member's account." Full details of partners that Federcasalinghe has signed up are to be announced at a press conference to be held in Rome at the end of March.
The fund, which also will be open to part-time workers and self-employed individuals who do not qualify for industrywide pensions, will start out with a single investment option, but probably will shift to multiple options later. The fund's board of directors plans to issue requests for proposals for administrators and asset managers in a couple of months. No decision has been made yet on the kind, or number, of managers.