EUROPE – The European Fund and Asset Management Association, the investment fund trade body, says it will press for the industry to offer occupational pensions.

“EFAMA will press the European Commission to encourage member states to adopt a forward-looking interpretation of the pension directive to allow the investment management industry to contribute to the creation of an efficient European market for occupational pensions,” the association stated in its new fact book.

“We do not think that all occupational pension schemes should be DC personal pension accounts, but we strongly believe that these accounts should have a place in national pension systems and that the regulation of the internal market for occupational retirement provision should ensure that personal accounts can be offered efficiently, on a sustainable and cost-effective basis.

EFAMA reckons the directive does not offer the most efficient way for asset managers to develop occupational pensions business as they would have to create a separate entity dedicated to retirement-benefit operations. This could mean costs in terms of capital, staffing and organisation.

EFAMA has long argued for a “level playing field” between investment funds and life insurers. At one point last year called the IORP directive discriminatory, although it ruled out legal action.

It argues that investment managers have the expertise to offer both second- and third-pillar pension products.

“Investment managers could help bridge the pension funding gap most successfully if they were to be allowed to offer defined contribution personal pension accounts in the second pillar.”

Earlier this year EFAMA proposed a European personal pensions account to ease cross-border portability of pension rights.

The Brussels-based group said the idea would build on the concept of personal accounts in countries such as Ireland, German and Sweden under the framework of the IORP directive.