Discretionary assets of the world's 100 largest asset owners totaled $19 trillion, up 1.7% from the year before, research from the Thinking Ahead Institute said.
The research also noted that the 20 largest asset owners had $10.55 trillion, representing 55.5% of the assets in the ranking.
"The 100 largest asset owners are responsible for over 35% of all global asset owner capital. Of these, there are a number of self-declared universal owners that are large-scale, long-term and leadership-minded funds that own a slice of the whole world economy," Roger Urwin, global head of content at the Thinking Ahead Institute, said in a news release announcing the report. "This makes them pursue an influential role in safeguarding the financial system and contributing positively to certain big societal issues without compromising on their financial responsibilities. They have no choice but to take seriously their responsibilities and lead from the front."
Mr. Urwin added that many asset owners "were able to avoid losing ground against their longer-term targets by sensible diversification — in particular, into private markets."
The Thinking Ahead Institute's analysis found that of the 59.1% of the $19 trillion in assets are held by pension funds, decreasing by 1.7% in 2018. Meanwhile, 33.5% are held by sovereign wealth funds, increasing by 1.5% during the year; and 7.4% by outsourced chief investment officers and master trusts, increasing by 0.2%.
The report also showed that the Asia-Pacific region remains the largest in terms of assets held, accounting for 36.1% of all assets in the ranking. Europe, Middle East and Africa represent 32.3%, while North America's share is 31.6%.
Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund topped the list of the five largest global asset owners, with $1.374 trillion. Norway's Government Pension Fund ranked second, with $982.29 billion, according to the Thinking Ahead Institute's research. China Investment Corp., the Beijing-based sovereign wealth fund, came in third, with $941.42 billion.
Rounding out the five largest asset owners are sovereign wealth funds: Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, with $696.66 billion; and Kuwait Investment Authority, with $592 billion.