GERMANY – Fund industry association BVI has elected Markus Riess, chief executive of dit, Allianz’s retail fund arm, as its new chairman for the next three years.

Riess replaces Axel Benkner, chief executive of DWS, Deutsche Bank’s retail fund arm. A BVI spokesman said Riess was elected by the association’s board, which also had been expanded from seven to nine members.

The spokesman could not immediately say what new initiatives were planned under Riess’s chairmanship of the BVI. He added, though, that the matter would be discussed by the board in the next few weeks and that BVI may have some comment then.

The election of Riess, a fund marketing specialist, is an indication that the BVI regards fund distribution as the top priority, especially now that German equity markets continue to perform well.

Yet of the €36bn in inflows to investment funds for the first eight months of 2005, much of it went to bond funds, as German investors remained sceptical of equity market performance.

BVI also said it had admitted two new members, Fidelity of the US and APO, a local provider of real estate funds for institutional investors. The association represents all domestic and foreign asset managers with a KAG (investment company) in Germany.

All told, BVI’s members managed €1.12bn in assets at the end of July, €521bn of which in investment funds and €596bn in institutional funds.

Separately, Heissmann, a leading German pensions adviser, has opened a new office in Ratingen near Düsseldorf to better serve clients in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state and an industrial base.

Klaus Plüntsch, head of the new office, said he and his five-member team were now in a position to more closely advise clients on all aspects of corporate pensions and staff compensation.