The world's Top 300 money managers held $21.2 trillion in assets at year-end 1996, according to the P&I/Watson Wyatt World 300.
Spread among 24 countries in five continents, just more than two-thirds of the assets are with managers based in three countries: the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.
U.S.-domiciled managers dominate the list, with $7.81 trillion, equal to 36.8% of the market share. Japanese-based managers had $4.64 trillion in assets, while U.K. managers ranked third with $2.1 trillion. (See rankings on page 19.)
In the next tier, Swiss managers ranked fourth, at $1.65 trillion, while France and Germany were shortly behind, at $1.45 trillion and $1.36 trillion, respectively.
The truth is, many of these managers are multinational in character, although their assets have been consolidated into the parent for the purposes of the ranking. The increasing globalization of money management is driving many firms, particularly European banks, to acquire overseas investment management expertise and access to international markets.
For example, Paris-based Groupe AXA's $497 billion in assets include New York-based Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States and Alliance Capital Management L.P., as well as operations spread across Europe and in Australia.
For some companies, it's hard to characterize their nationality at all. For example, many observers say it's hard to tell whether Capital Group Cos. Inc. is American, British or Swiss because of the integrated nature of its business.
As in last year, the list is topped by Kampo, the quasi-governmental life insurance system run by the Japanese post office, with $801 billion. Boston-based Fidelity Investments ranks second, at $522 billion, while Groupe AXA is third.
There are a number of problems in gathering data across so many countries. For example, many insurance companies report their holdings at book value. In Japan, both insurers and trust banks use book-accounting.
In addition, use of reported assets sometimes involves both corporate assets and invested assets, where breakdowns are not available. For U.S. and U.K. managers, however, assets generally refer to externally managed assets. For non-U.S. and non-U.K. insurers, most data refer to Dec. 31, 1995, while for many Japanese firms, data are from March 31, 1996, the end of Japan's fiscal year. Also, Swiss banks remain unwilling to provide data on their private-client assets. Where necessary, estimates have been made of their total assets under management.