Thinking Ahead Institute reveals the most influential capital on the planet

The Asset Owner 100 – the world’s 100 biggest asset owners – account for around US$19 trillion, or nearly 35% of capital held by all asset owners globally.

LONDON, 12 November 2018 – The Asset Owner 100 – the world’s 100 biggest asset owners – account for around US$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 Asset Owner 100 (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 into any asset class. As such, the report argues, they have the ability to shape capital markets and to play a key role in the smooth running of the global economy.

Roger Urwin, Global Head of Investment Content at the Thinking Ahead Institute, said:

“With around US$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. 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 over-arching need for these large asset owners to understand the world in which they operate, and over which they potentially hold such influence. Over the next decade, this means doing more to institutionalise 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 US$11trillion in assets, accounting for 56% of the total assets of the AO100.

Top 20 asset owners (in US$ million)

RankOrganisationCountryTotal AssetsPrimary Category
Government Pension InvestmentJapan$1,443,554Pension Fund
2Government Pension FundNorway1,063,456Pension Fund
3China Investment Corporation China$900,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
4Abu Dhabi Investment AuthorityUAE$828,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
5National PensionSouth Korea$582,938Pension Fund
6APGNetherlands$564,508Pension Fund
7Federal Retirement ThriftU.S.$531,489Pension Fund
8Kuwait Investment AuthorityKuwait$524,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
9SAMA Foreign HoldingsSaudi Arabia$514,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
10Hong Kong Monetary Authority Investment PortfolioHong Kong$456,600Sovereign Wealth Fund
11 SAFE Investment CompanyChina$441,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
12GIC Private Limited Singapore$359,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
13National Social SecurityChina$341,361Pension Fund
14California Public EmployeesU.S.$336,684Pension Fund
15Qatar Investment AuthorityQatar$335,000Sovereign Wealth Fund
16Canada PensionCanada$283,454Pension Fund
17Central Provident FundSingapore$269,133Pension Fund
18PGGMNetherlands$262,290Pension Fund
19Temasek HoldingsSingapore$230,310Sovereign Wealth Fund
20Public Investment Fund/Sanabil InvestmentsSaudi Arabia$230,000Sovereign Wealth Fund

About the Thinking Ahead Institute

The Thinking Ahead Institute is a global not-for-profit member organisation 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. Learn more at