GLOBAL - Pension fund assets have risen to 41% of the asset management industry's client assets in Benelux, France, Germany and Italy, up from 41%.

Invesco's 'European Institutional Asset Management Survey 2004' found that 41% of the industry's assets were pension fund assets, with insurance assets stable at 30%.

Public sector assets fell to one percent from two percent a year ago while authority and corporate assets have fallen to one percent each, from three percent and four percent respectively.

"As last year, the largest client segment represented was pension funds," Invesco said. "Overall we have the same client segment breakdown as in 2003." Invesco pointed out that client segments are not the same in each European country.

Invesco surveyed investors in the Benelux countries, France, Germany and Italy representing total assets under management of 518 billion euros.

Invesco added that there was stability in European institutional investors' asset allocation in 2003.

"Surprisingly, investors' weightings in equities remained relatively stable in 2003 despite the good market return," said Yves van Langenhove, head of institutional sales at Invesco Western Europe.

The survey found that investors would focus on investment-grade corporates, high-yield corporates and emerging market bonds in the fixed-income segment.

It also found that the weighting to hedge funds has doubled to two percent, with private equity portion rising to 1.3% from 0.6%.

It added: “Despite good results for the real estate sector, the real estate weighting declined from five percent to three per cent.”

And the survey found an increase in the use of external investment consultants to an average of 36%, with manager selection being the main task.

“In Italy, half of all investors employed a consultant, mostly for asset allocation decisions. Only 28% of German investors employed external consultants, but the trend is pointing upwards.”