GERMANY - Citing a boom in demand for corporate pensions products, German financial services firm AWD expects to acquire 5,000 corporate clients by the end of 2005, bringing the products’ share of total sales to 10%.

At the end of 2004, AWD had 3,000 clients and corporate pension products made up 6% of its €691m in sales. Overall, financial products associated with long-term saving or retirement account for two-thirds of the firm’s sales.

Speaking at AWD’s annual meeting, chief executive Carsten Maschmeyer said the boom in German pensions would continue for “decades” amid heavier reliance on second and third pillar pensions.

“It’s like we’re sitting on huge oil reserve. It’s been dug and it will explode,” he told shareholders in Hannover.

To deal with the boom, AWD said recently that it had hired an additional 130 corporate pensions specialists. Some of the firm’s more recent clients include the music entertainment channel MTV, the spectacles chain Apollo and several auto component suppliers.

However, Maschmeyer joined other members of the German fund industry in criticising the country’s new private pensions - including the ‘Riester Rente’ and the ‘Rürup Rente’, as “too bureaucratic”.

Like the German fund industry association BVI, Maschmeyer called for the introduction of a simplified private pension similar to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) in the US. Savers, he said, should have the option of investing their money in funds or in insurance policies.

Separately, AWD’s board said that by 2008, it aimed to raise the number of its sales agents to 8,000 from 6,000 currently. Sales should rise to more than €1bn by then, it added.