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Top 300 Pension Funds Top $15 Trillion

The world’s pension assets hit a new milestone in 2014, but grew at half the rate of the previous year.

Total assets of the world’s largest 300 pension funds grew by 3.4% in 2014, compared to around 6.2% in 2013, reaching a new high of $15.4 trillion, according to research from Pensions & Investments (P&I) and Towers Watson. The research also shows that the world’s top 300 pension funds now represent around 43% of global pension assets.

Ten years ago total assets at the world’s largest pension funds grew by 27% in that year to reach $8.4 trillion and move above the previous high of $6.6 trillion reached in 2003. The cumulative growth in the period 2009-2014 was 36.2%.

Defined benefit funds account for 67% of total assets, down from 75% five years ago. During 2014 defined contribution assets grew the most, by almost 5%, followed by DB assets (almost 4%) and reserve funds (over 1%), while hybrid plan assets decreased by more than 2%.

According to the research, the U.S. remains the country with the largest share of pension fund assets accounting for around 38%, while Japan has the second-largest market share with around 12%. The Netherlands has the third-largest market share with 7%, with Norway and Canada fourth and fifth largest, respectively, with around a 6% share each.

The 114 public sector funds in the research had assets of $6.0 trillion in 2014 and account for 39% of the total, while private sector industry funds (60) and corporate funds (99) account for 14% and 19%, respectively of assets in the research. Among the top 300 were 27 sovereign pension funds, accounting for 28% of assets and totaling around $4.2 trillion.

The research shows that 25 new funds entered the ranking during the past five years and, on a net basis, the countries that contributed the most new funds were the U.K. and South Korea (two funds), Russia, Australia, France, Peru, Vietnam and the U.S. (one fund). During the same period, Germany and Japan had a net loss of three funds from the ranking. The U.S. has the largest number of funds in the research (128), followed by the U.K. (27), Canada (19), Australia (16), Japan (15) and the Netherlands (13).