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A new survey of investment fund distributors shows the enduring appeal of equities among European retail investors. According to Greenwich Associates, some 47% of retail assets are invested in equities in Europe. By contrast, institutional investors on the continent allocated only around 20% of assets to equities. This difference is particularly stark in Germany, where retail investors devote 66% of their portfolios to shares, versus an average allocation of only 7% among institutional investors in the country.

Roughly two-thirds of the fund distributors polled by Greenwich say that retail clients will boost allocations to emerging-markets equities over the next year. Other asset classes poised for growth, survey respondents say, are a host of alternative investments, including hedge funds and vehicles focused on commodities and infrastructure.

The latest survey of financial industry executives by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Confederation of British Industry is encouraging, with reported business volumes up for the fifth consecutive quarter. But the results are also tinged with disappointment, as survey respondents’ forward-looking expectations have been far too optimistic in recent months.

Last quarter, a balance of 63% of respondents expected volumes to improve over the next three months; in the end, “only” 28% actually reported higher volumes for the quarter. In the latest survey, which closed on September 1st, a net 24% of respondents expect higher business volumes over the next three months. This can either be seen as a warranted moderation in forecast volumes or, given financiers’ recent tendency to overshoot,┬ásign of a significant slowdown ahead.

More than their counterparts in other industries, financial services firms thrive on league tables. Bankers are always aware of their position in various rankings, not least because promotions and pay are sometimes linked to them.

A new ranking from security firm Kroll, compiled by the EIU, places the financial services sector at the top of a list of ten industries. But this is not a list that anyone would be proud to lead. A global poll of executives found that financial services firms are suffering the most from fraud, with the average company losing US$15.2m over the past three years.

Kroll fraud poll