FRANCE – The French asset management association, the Paris-based AFG-ASFFI, has called on the government to reform the tax system to encourage people to save more and to set up a new regulatory body to ensure the continued growth of the asset management and pensions industry in France.

The call comes as the association publishes its annual report for 2001, which shows that the French asset management industry totalled €1.4trn last year, a slight increase on the previous year’s €1.35trn, despite stock market turbulence.

The report also finds France is the market leader in Europe for mutual funds in absolute investment terms, and remains second to Luxembourg in terms of the administration and registration of funds.

Says Alain Leclair, president of the association: “We urge the new government to look at the tax structure surrounding long-term savings plans. It needs to introduce tax breaks and incentives to allow people to save more, particularly for their retirement. This is crucial to the future development of the asset management and savings industry here,” he says.

Leclair’s colleague, Pierre Bollon, the association’s general manager, says other than tax, AFG-ASFFI’s priorities for the coming year include modernising the savings industry and working with all parties concerned towards the creation of a regulatory body.

“We need to set up a regulator for the asset management market here to ensure future growth and reform the investment consultancy and financial adviser industries.”

However, the association has been forging ahead with its own plans, independent of government and has set up various working bodies and commissions to investigate potential growth areas, such as alternative investments, capital development, multi-management and the evolution of investment strategies.

Overall, it claims the French asset management industry is in a good position to grow. “We are doing relatively well in the current stock market crisis and our potential for growth appears untouched by the worsening of general economic conditions. Indeed, we expect funds under management in France to double at least by 2010,” Leclair comments.