UK – AXA says it will spend a “considerable sum” to position itself among the top five players in the UK corporate pension scheme market. It has set up a new specialist unit to provide large schemes with a range of support services designed to let firms keep running costs down.

The UK operating arm of the insurer, AXA-Sunlife, will offer services to provide for a combination of group pensions products, including group personal pensions, stakeholder or occupational pensions, administering the products on the same operating platform.

“The various products all have different legislation requirements surrounding them, and are very complex. We plan to have dedicated project units to deal with this,” says Stephen Muir, marketing manager at AXA-Sunlife.

“The cost of running pension schemes has gone up. We want to streamline the administration and process so as to cut costs for schemes, without jeopardising the quality, ” adds Muir.

Explains Steve Folkard, head of pensions marketing at AXA-Sunlife: “Our approach has been developed following extensive discussions with major pensions specialists. To meet the requirements for advisers, employers and trustees who are associated with large schemes, we have focussed on the key areas of scheme implementation and post sales communication and servicing.

“Schemes need to be easy to set up and supported by excellent pre and post sales service. We are investing a considerable sum in the continuing development of our proposition over the next 12 months, in addition to the 30 million pounds (46.8 million euros) already spent to improve our pensions platform, over the past year.”

The services on offer will include: a central tender unit, support teams, dedicated project management teams, sales consultants, simplified application processes, and member access to pension records.

The investment management of any new schemes that AXA-Sunlife takes on will be implemented by AXA Investment Managers, AXA Rosenberg or through AXA Sunlife’s external links, which could result in AXA moving up the ladder in terms of UK pensions fund assets under management.

According to data by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, AXA IM ranked 28th among fund managers as at the end of 2001 with 9.01 billion dollars in UK pension assets under management. In France, Italy and Germany, AXA ranks among the top ten for pension assets under management of those countries.