FRANCE – The growth in the épargne salariale company savings scheme market in France could see assets under management grow from their current level of €60bn to €200bn in the next ten to fifteen years, says Pierre Schereck, retail director of company savings at Crédit Lyonnais Asset Management (CLAM) speaking in the newspaper Tribune.

The article suggests the growth in the sector, which is fast becoming a major source of retirement provision in France, represents enormous opportunities for asset management and financial services groups.

The new savings schemes market has been stimulated mainly by the Fabius reforms of February 2001, which extended the minimum savings term and made it compulsory for small to medium-sized companies with more than 50 employees to offer a scheme.

According to the Tribune, this means the épargne salariale market, which currently accounts for 6 million employees, is now open to a potential 15 million employees, as 97% of companies with between 50 and 500 employees have yet to set up a savings plan.

A spokesman for Société Générale Asset Management in Paris says many mutual and insurance companies, not just asset managers, are interested in taking their place in the new market, since the épargne salariale industry is expected to compete with the traditional life assurance market in France.

“In the long-term, the company savings schemes’ market could reach more than two thirds of the total value of the life insurance market, so insurance companies and mutual companies are naturally as enthusiastic as asset managers about the potential business it could generate,” he comments.

Cathérine Sayag, marketing director at Interépargne says she has noticed an enormous increase this year in the number of small and medium-sized companies looking to enter the savings scheme market. “We have had 2,000 new contracts alone from this sector since the start of this year,” she says.

Even looking retrospectively, Schereck at CLAM says the influx of people into the new company schemes over the last five years means that the value of the industry in terms of assets has more than quadrupled.