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Call for European asset management directive

FRANCE - The head of the French asset management association has called for a European asset management directive.

Alain Leclair, chairman of the Association Francaise de la Gestion Financiere, told delegates at the European Asset Management Association conference: "I think we need to have a large directive for our business, asset management."

He said the current directives each only cover a "little parcel" of the industry, maybe one to two percent.

He said that the association has written to the Commission on the topic but has so far received no response.

Leclair, who was the founding chairman of Paribas Asset Management, was also highly critical of the pension funds directive, calling it a "complete empty body".

Ultimately, Leclair said he would like to see a pan European regulator. He said current directives fall between two extremes - either they were too strict or rigid or too large and too vague, meaning they do not deliver.

"Consumers and institutional investors continue to be deprived of easy access to cross-border funds or asset management services," Leclair said. "There is a necessity to rationalise the industry and range of European funds."

Leclair added that he would like to see the Commission address the issue of investor protection with a directive on the issue.

Also addressing the conference, Daniel Roy, chairman of CDC IXIS Asset Management,
said the continued privatisation of European pension funds, with the pay as you go system nearing bankruptcy, would be a "key driver of the 21st century" for the asset management industry.

Roy said the asset management industry was still a good, profitable business. Going forward, he was positive. "We bet that the market environment will be positive."

He foresaw a long-term return on equities of between five and eight percent, which he called "pretty conservative";

This long-term market performance would be a "key support" for the asset management industry, he said.

Among other developments, Roy also pinpointed a change in importance of the chief financial officer at asset management firms. He noted that CFOs are now more important than CIOs, chief investment officers.

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