Total assets of the 1,000 largest U.S. retirement plans continued to climb last year, reaching $11 trillion as of Sept. 30, representing a 6.4% increase from a year earlier, and a 31.8% increase from five years prior, Pensions & Investments' annual survey found.
Defined benefit plans within the P&I 1,000 universe represented $6.91 trillion in assets, while defined contribution plans in the group accounted for nearly $4.1 trillion in assets as of Sept. 30.
Among the 200 largest retirement systems, asset growth among defined contribution plans, which oversaw $2.47 trillion in assets, once again outpaced that of DB plans, with $5.46 trillion in assets, the survey found.
Of note, assets of DB plans in the top 200 grew 4.4% compared to the previous year and 22.4% compared to five years earlier. Assets in the top 200 defined contribution plans grew 10.7% from a year earlier and 53.5% from five years earlier.
The asset growth differences can be attributed to a number of factors, including DC plans "benefiting from market gains and new contributions," said Jay Love, an Atlanta-based partner and U.S. director of strategic research at investment consultant Mercer.
"(Among) the top 1,000 DB plans, I would imagine that half of them are probably frozen and another 20% to 30% are closed," he added. For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, the Russell 3000 index was up 17.58%, while the MSCI ACWI IMI ex-U.S. index was up 1.79% and the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond index was down 1.2%.
There was no change at the top as the three largest retirement plans by assets remained unchanged from last year.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Savings Plan, Washington, retained its No. 1 spot with $578.8 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, up 8.9% from last year. Sacramento-based California Public Employees' Retirement System again ranked second with $376.9 billion, increasing 11.9% over the year, followed by the California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, up 6.5% to $230.2 billion.