Why don’t Latvian pension funds diversify more internationally?
Latvian employees have to choose a pension fund for the second-pillar of the Latvian pension system. These pension funds invest about 85% in domestic assets. In this paper, we address the question why this strong home bias might exist. Firstly, we conclude that the Latvian pension law is strict on international diversification. However, not to the extent that it can fully explain the home bias. Secondly, our empirical analysis suggests that international diversification lowers investment risks for Latvian (pension) investors. Thus, it seems hard to explain the home bias of Latvian pension funds by lack of diversification benefits. Thirdly, Latvian pension fund managers might have more (private) information about Latvian companies than international companies. Therefore, they might prefer to invest more domestically to add more value for their clients. Finally, Latvian employees might have a strong preference to invest in companies they are familiar with. Since we are not aware of any research on the latter two topics, we can only speculate that currently many investment policies are suboptimal for Latvian employees saving for retirement. We expect the Latvian pension industry to develop new products that reduce risk by allowing for more diversification. In addition, we recommend Latvian employees to pay attention to the investment policy of their pension fund and think carefully about the rewards, risks, and costs that are involved.
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