Press Release

Thinking Ahead Institute reveals the ‘most influential capital on the planet’

November 12, 2018
| United States

ARLINGTON, VA, November 12, 2018 — The Asset Owner 100 (AO100) — the world’s 100 biggest asset owners — account for around $19 trillion, or nearly 35%, of capital held by all asset owners globally, according to a new report from Willis Towers Watson’s Thinking Ahead Institute.

In its first study of the AO100, the Thinking Ahead Institute describes this unique group as being responsible for investing the “most influential capital on the planet,” with the discretion to place their capital into any country and asset class. As such, the report argues they have the ability to shape capital markets and play a key role in the smooth running of the global economy.

“With around $55 trillion in assets — a sum that is more than $10,000 for every adult on the planet — asset owners globally are too important to fail in their mission,” said Roger Urwin, global head of Investment Content at the Thinking Ahead Institute. “They have little choice but to take their financial and social responsibilities seriously, and not to shirk the big issues. These include the need to develop stronger leadership, respond effectively to regulation, manage agency issues and improve control over outcomes.

“There is also a more overarching need for these large asset owners to understand the world in which they operate and potentially hold such influence. Over the next decade, this means doing more to institutionalize professionalism, streamline operating models, leverage culture and diversity more effectively, and evolve the investment model into increasingly smart and sustainable arrangements.”

The Thinking Ahead Institute’s analysis found that 61% of the assets of the AO100 are held by pension funds, with 32% held by sovereign wealth funds and 7% by outsourced CIOs and master trusts. The largest region in terms of assets under management was Asia Pacific (36%), with 34% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and 30% in North America.

The top 20 funds total nearly $11 trillion in assets, accounting for 56% of the total assets of the AO100.

Top 20 asset owners (in $ million)

Rank Organization Country Total assets Primary category
1 Government Pension Investment Japan $1,443,554 Pension fund
2 Government Pension Fund Norway $1,063,456 Pension fund
3 China Investment Corporation China $900,000 Sovereign wealth fund
4 Abu Dhabi Investment Authority U.A.E. $828,000 Sovereign wealth fund
5 National Pension South Korea $582,938 Pension fund
6 APG Netherlands $564,508 Pension fund
7 Federal Retirement Thrift U.S. $531,489 Pension fund
8 Kuwait Investment Authority Kuwait $524,000 Sovereign wealth fund
9 SAMA Foreign Holdings Saudi Arabia $514,000 Sovereign wealth fund
10 Hong Kong Monetary Authority Investment Portfolio Hong Kong $456,600 Sovereign wealth fund
11 SAFE Investment Company China $441,000 Sovereign wealth fund
12 GIC Private Limited Singapore $359,000 Sovereign wealth fund
13 National Social Security China $341,361 Pension fund
14 California Public Employees U.S. $336,684 Pension fund
15 Qatar Investment Authority Qatar $335,000 Sovereign wealth fund
16 Canada Pension Canada $283,454 Pension fund
17 Central Provident Fund Singapore $269,133 Pension fund
18 PGGM Netherlands $262,290 Pension fund
19 Temasek Holdings Singapore $230,310 Sovereign wealth fund
20 Public Investment Fund/Sanabil Investments Saudi Arabia $230,000 Sovereign wealth fund

About the Thinking Ahead Institute

The Thinking Ahead Institute is a global not-for-profit member organization whose aim is to influence change in the investment world for the benefit of savers. The Institute’s members comprise asset owners, investment managers and other groups that are motivated to influence the industry for the good of savers worldwide. It has 45 members with combined responsibility for over US$12 trillion and is an outgrowth of Willis Towers Watson Investments’ Thinking Ahead Group.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has over 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.