EUROPE – European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy is confident that UK and European pension funds will embrace independent research.

Speaking at the launch today of the new European Association of Independent Research Providers (EUROIRP), McCreevy told IPE that despite the wave of regulations already affecting the pensions industry, he is sure that UK and European pension funds will climb on board.

He also stated that he doesn’t have plans to over-regulate as this “stifles” innovation.

EUROIRP is linked to the unbundling of payments for research and execution by fund managers (as of January 1 2006), regarded by some commentators as a “second big bang” in the research and investment management industry.

Described as “a trade association for research providers” by director John Kay, EUROIRP looks set to attract members from across Europe.

It will focus on providing a common voice on regulatory issues and create a common platform for the promotion of independent research.

The Financial Services Authority’s head of institutional business policy, Christina Sinclair, confirmed McCreevy’s statement regarding the UK.

“We hope to bring everyone on board by the first quarter of next year,” she told IPE.

“Larger pension funds are ready to capitalise on the benefits, but the smaller funds haven’t even woken up to it yet.”

The National Association of Pension Funds is the main driver in this regard. It will have most of the responsibility for educating fund managers and pension trustees about EUROIRP, according to Sinclair.

The main objectives of EUROIRP include the promotion of independence and dealing with regulatory bodies influencing the sector.

Applicants for membership have already been received from independent research providers (IRPs) in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the UK, according to a statement released today.