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Asset managers 'unable' to challenge insurers' dominance over pensions

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  • Asset managers 'unable' to challenge insurers' dominance over pensions

GERMANY - Asset managers are failing to meet the needs of German occupational pension schemes (bAV), a survey by consultancy Kommalpha has shown.

The survey - 'Retirement provision and the asset management industry' - detailed the importance the industry placed on clients within the bAV sector.

It found that many were concerned that regulatory changes would make their products decreasingly attractive to investors, with the insurance industry still ahead of asset managers as service providers.

The survey noted that the "rivalry" between asset managers and insurers was long known, with the insurance industry viewed as better able to offer bAV products by 84% of institutional investors.

It added that this was partially the result of well-established channels leading directly from an insurer into a customer's home, allowing for insurance-backed pension products to be viewed in the same light as life insurance.

It said: "The image of those active in the financial markets is generally perceived as good and further put under strain by the recent financial crisis.

"Insurance companies have not been as badly affected, as the performance of their products is less transparent - and not noted daily on stock exchanges."

However, more than one-fifth of those offering bAV products also perceived the rising gold price as a threat, with growing demand for the precious metal and increased interest in real estate investments seen as threatening market share by 23%.

Unsurprisingly, nearly three-quarters of asset managers viewed the introduction of an investment fund-based bAV product as a positive step, up significantly from two years ago.

The survey also noted the challenge rising longevity posed for pension funds, with 29% of respondents saying the issue of increasing liabilities would be addressed by allocating more than three-quarters of their portfolio through a liability-driven investment (LDI) approach.

A further quarter said as much as 75% was invested using an LDI portfolio, while 7% of respondents said they were not using the strategy but considering it for the future.

Fourteen percent said they had no knowledge of the strategy whatsoever.

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