Swiss banks enjoyed a record financial year in 1997, with institutional assets under management rising by a previously unseen 25%, and 1998 looks like producing even better results.

In January Credit Suisse Asset Management administered SFr52bn ($33bn) in pension fund assets, a figure it had hoped to increase by 40% to SFr70bn before the end of this year.

However, despite this being an am-bitious target, it was one which had already been reached by March, says Dominique Fässler, managing director of Credit Suisse Management (Schweiz).

Hans-Joerg von Euw, marketing director of Julius Bär Asset Management, reports a similar trend: We are getting flooded with new money, " he says. In only three months assets had jumped by the same amount as they had in the whole previous year, rising by SFr3 bn to SFr20 bn, which had been the expected target for December. " There is still plenty more in the pipeline aswell," he states.

Although SBC Brinson do not disclose figures for the first quarter, Michael Theurillat, who is responsible for their institutional clients in Switzerland is also "highly pleased" at the current situation.

Due to the company's merger with UBS, he had lowered the expected budget, but as he explains: "This has had no braking effect on our funds and we are far beyond our expectations for the year."

All three banks put down part of their success to the increase in performance standards and professionalism in asset management. Von Euw also feels that pension schemes, particularly in public and social institutions are still discovering their 'sleeping accounts'.

He adds: " There is supposed to be an enormous liquidity in the funds, so I think this trend will almost certainly continue." Erich Solenthaler"