Switzerland's pension funds have a unified representative body for the first time in their history with the merger of the five existing associations creating one grouping from the start of this year.

The Association Suisse des Institutions de prévoyance (ASIP) will hold its first members' assembly in Bern on 13 March this year. The provisional President is Dr Hermann Walser, with a secretariat based in Thoune, headed by Gregor Ruh.

The set up of ASIP may help extend performance measurement of pension funds, an area where Switzerland lags the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The fragmentation of the pension funds has been one reason for this, although currently several initiatives are underway to create meaningful universes of funds.

Jean-Pierre Steiner, the head of the Nestlé pension fund in Vevey, has set up a group of large corporate and public pension funds called the Swiss Pension Group for the purposes of performance measurement.

There are several firms trying to set up universes but they are competing against each other and that is not very satisfactory. Our universe is still small with a dozen funds but we have to make a start," says Steiner.

Monitoring of the 12 funds began last year and data extends to 1995 for most investment categories. The service is reserved to funds in the group but Steiner says that they may extend it to other funds.

"We will see if there is an interest in the general membership of the new association. Then perhaps the universe will be completely representative."

Frank Russell in Zurich have also begun performance measurement, in this case of the medium-sized balanced funds, with an extensive report on the second quarter results with some published findings expected later this month.

The company has already produced an initial report from the third quarter of last year for participating funds. The universe includes 16 funds that meet BVG (balanced fund guidelines) although Russell hopes to expand this to 40 funds by the end of this year.

Marc Wright, project manager for fund monitoring in Russell's Zurich office says: "We are planning to produce a very high level executive report. The market is for trustees of these pension funds or for company executives. We want to take an overall look at the performance of each fund and then make a comparison with other peer BVG funds in this universe."

Russell will for the moment restrict the universe to the small to mid sized funds.

"These 16 funds are basically mid-range funds and we will be marketing the report to small to mid-sized pension funds. The larger funds already have quite a detailed performance analysis and don't have as much interest in such executive-oriented summaries," adds Wright. John Lappin"