DENMARK - Contributions at PFA, Denmark's second-largest pension fund, rose by almost a fifth in the first quarter of 2012, as the fund focused on setting up several new corporate schemes.

Group head and chief executive Henrik Heideby said: "The business growth reflects a big increase in new customers and solid underlying growth from existing customers at PFA."

Total contributions climbed almost 20% to DKK5.3bn (€713m) in the January to March period from the same period in 2011.

Most of the new money went into unit-link products, with contributions to this type of plan making up 60% of total contributions in the period. This compares with 27% in Q1 2011, and 47% at the end of 2011.

The investment return for traditional with-profits pensions was DKK6.2bn in Q1, or 1.8%, up from the DKK2.6bn loss seen in the same period last year. For customers with unit-link plans, investment returns came in at between 3.3% and 10%, the fund said.

The fund attributed its performance to good equity growth over the quarter, with Danish shares returning in excess of 15%. Foreign shares returned around 10%, while corporate bonds yielded 3%.

PFA said there had been increased demand for its pensions advice, with advisory activity up 20-30% from the beginning of 2011.

"The background to this is the many new rules which have put pensions on the agenda for consumers, as well as the growth in new customers," it said in its interim report.

"In the first quarter, some of the focus has been on implementing big new pension schemes for Danfoss, CAP Gemini, Siemens and Siemens Wind Power, as well as farming organization Dansk Landbrugsrådgivning and others," it said.

Total assets increased by 18% to DKK335bn from DKK284bn in the same period in 2011.