M Reforma, part of the asset management arm of Banco Mello, has launched the first industry-specific pension fund in Portugal. The new fund, Turismo Pensões, is targeting companies and workers in the tourism industry.

M Reforma proposed the fund to the government last year. We ob-served that in Europe and around the world it is becoming normal to offer sector funds," said Armando Nunes, member of the board of directors of M Reforma. Tourism is one of the fast-growing sectors in the Portugese economy.

The new fund has been launched in conjunction with the government agency Fundo de Turismo, which is supporting M Reforma in its drive to drum up business for the pension fund. "The government is aware of the pension fund problem in Portugal," said Nunes. "It has a social security system like other countries in Europe," so it is willing to assist private companies interested in offering supplementary pension funds. At the same time, the government is offering incentives to help develop the tourism industry, and a pension fund fits in well with its aims. It has not offered any financial assistance to private sector financial institutions.

M Reforma expects that the fund may grow quite slowly, as awareness of pensions is low both among companies and individuals. Nunes estimated that the fund will attract around Esc1bn ($6m) in its first year, both from company schemes and from individual members - there are more than 200,000 companies in the tourism sector, representing 4.6% of the active workforce. The secretary of state for tourism has been arranging meetings for M Reforma executives with major companies in the sector to raise awareness of the new product. Stephanie Schwartz"