EUROPE – The outgoing head of the UK’s asset management trade association says there is a lack of understanding of the industry at the European policy level.

“It is vital that the voice of the ‘buy-side’ is heard more loudly in Brussels,” said Alan Burton, chairman of the Investment Management Association. “In the last year we have come across a whole range of examples where there is a clear lack of understanding or awareness of the issues concerning asset management.”

“Our voice in Brussels as asset managers is still not strong enough,” he added. Speaking at the IMA’s annual dinner, he said the IMA supports moves to merge the European Asset Management Association and the Federation Europeenne des Fonds et Societes d’Investissement, or FEFSI.

He said that next week the IMA would release research by Mannheim University’s Professor Friedrich Heinemann which takes a look at how asset management should look in a single market.

He noted that almost half of the mandates operated by UK-based asset managers come from overseas clients.

Defending the role of the asset management industry, Burton said institutional investors such as pension funds benefit from the amalgamation of trades, the spreading of fixed costs and from shared research.

He said the low public confidence in the industry has led to costly regulation. “There is a clear and present danger of more regulation in an already heavily regulated industry bringing more cost, making our products and services less and less competitive.”

But he acknowledged some of the failings of the industry in terms of informing clients. “Our customers are not well informed, whether they are retail investors, pension members or trustees.”