SWITZERLAND/ITALY/UK - Swisscanto is planning a move into the Italian pension market after a recent expansion into the UK, a company official said.
Head of asset management and institutional clients Peter Bänziger told GP the company is looking for an account manager in Italy, following an internal review highlighting the potential of the country's institutional market. The person should be hired by mid-2010.
He said: "Italy prefers regional products, such as national equity funds. It is also keen on green funds, of which we have different options for our clients, including a green emerging markets fund."
Bänziger also said Swisscanto's review found the biggest obstacle in entering the Italian market will be the "bad reputation" of the financial services industry after the past two years of market turmoil and scandals.
In addition, he said Swisscanto has been talking to investment consultants active in Italy, such as bfinance and Prometeia, which it will use to market its products.
At the time, Barrett said: "After we expanded in Germany, the move towards UK institutional clients was the way forward."
Now Barrett said Swisscanto will launch at the end of the month a Luxembourg-based global corporate bond fund, which will be offered to UK schemes.
The money manager has been active in Switzerland since 1973 and it has historically targeted mainly Swiss clients, especially pension funds.
Bänziger said Swiss schemes are currently "not willing or able to take extra risk on board", since they maintained their allocation to equities during the crisis.
He added: "Because of low nominal interest rates, Swiss plans should have returns of around 4 - 4.5% to meet their obligations. However, if this low interest rate environment remains, they will be forced to take on more risk."
The top stories this week were the High Court's decision to block the £12bn annuity transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life, and a separate court ruling that 'raises the bar' for pension rectification exercises.
Guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation has soared to the top of pension schemes' to-do lists, with 58% stating it is a priority project, research from Equiniti has revealed.
Professional Pensions is holding its defined contribution (DC) conference on 4 September.