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Efama leads call for pan-European long-term savings product

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Long term savings and distribution led the agenda at a discussion hosted by the European Fund and Asset Management Association at a meeting that included representatives of regulators, the investment industry and investors.

Five key issues were debated in a closed door session at Fund Forum International 2010.

Long term savings and distribution are issues of particular importance to Efama following the publication of its report earlier this year, Revisiting the landscape of European long-term savings: a call for action from the asset management industry.

The attendees were supportive of creating a pan-European long-term savings product to meet the needs of the ageing population of Europe, one of the greatest challenges currently facing Europe.

Efama says European consumers need a product that is simple, cost-effective and transparent to encourage long-term savings. Effective distribution and advice on savings products across Europe are major challenges that must be addressed, from a regulatory, supervisory and commercial standpoint.

The second issue under debate was shareholder engagement, both in terms of activism and stewardship. The panel agreed that asset managers need to go beyond a short-termist approach and engage in long term dialogue with the companies in which they invest. The group acknowledged that it is essential to find the right balance between their fiduciary duties to their investors and their role as investors in a company, and to find proper mechanisms for effective engagement.

The third item on the agenda was the evolving supervisory framework in the EU and how it will impact on the asset management industry. The European Securities and Markets Authority, one of three new authorities, will be an independent body taking over from the Committee of European Securities Regulators, not comparable to the SEC, that will operate as a co-ordinating rather than guiding force. The aim is that the body will ultimately lead to a more harmonised approach in regulation across Europe. .
Turning to the issue of new regulation for depositaries, the industry representatives said that the existing global custody model has served the industry and investors well but there is a legitimate argument for strengthening investor protection. The industry representatives on the panel felt that new regulation should not lead to an overhaul of a well-established body of practices.

The discussion panel, moderated by Tom Brown, partner at KPMG, consisted of Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of CESR; Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, president of Efama; consumer advocates Mick McAteer and Guillaume Prache; Marc Garvin, chairman international business, treasury and securities services of JP Morgan; and members of the Efama president advisory council: Juan Alcaraz, chief executive of Allfunds Bank and Santander Asset Management; Dominique Carrel-Billiard, chief executive of Axa Investment Managers; Alain Dromer, chief executive of Aviva Investors; Roderick Munsters, chief executive of Robeco, Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management; Allan Polack, chief executive of Nordea Savings and Asset Management; Peter De Proft, director general of Efama; and Claude Kremer, vice-president of Efama.

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