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Pension funds dominate largest asset owners

Willis Towers Watson's Thinking Ahead Institute recently released its research on the world's 100 largest asset owners. The institute reported that the group held about $19 trillion of the estimated $55 trillion held globally by asset owners, defined here as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and OCIOs and master trusts. Of that $19 trillion, the 20 largest asset owners hold 56%, or $10.5 trillion.

At the end of 2017, sovereign wealth funds held about one-third of the total assets among the 100 largest asset owners despite only accounting for only one-fifth of the total funds. Most of the assets were held by pension funds, which represented about two-thirds of the individual entities in the cohort.

Regionally, assets were quite evenly dispersed across the three major regions observed in the study, while North America was home to a larger number of funds.

The China Investment Corp. was the largest sovereign wealth fund at the end of 2017, managing about $900 billion in assets, followed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with $828 billion in assets. Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund was the world's largest pension fund, with $1.4 trillion.