The Asset Owner 100 – 2023

The most influential capital on the planet

The Asset Owner 100 is a Thinking Ahead Institute study which gathers data on the total assets of the top 100 asset owners around the world. Though not included in the ranking, the study also presents the total assets for the top 10 insurers and the top 10 foundations and endowments.

The study reveals the world’s 100 largest asset owners are now responsible for US$ 23.4 trillion as of the end of 2022; experiencing a decline of nearly 9% compared to the previous year when this stood at US$25.7 trillion for the largest 100 asset owners at the time. Pension funds only just retain the majority share of AUM among the largest 100, with the combined assets of pension funds making up 52.8%. By contrast, sovereign wealth funds have seen their share rise and now make up 38.9% of total assets among the world’s largest 100 asset owners. 

Asset owners have navigated a year of volatility and uncertainty at their highest in a generation. The disruption caused by elevated inflation and increased interest rates has affected equity and bond markets on a global scale, putting extra pressure on asset owners to reassess and adjust their strategies. The shift from an era of low inflation and interest rates has given a rise to a new macroeconomic landscape that demands a fresh understanding and management approach. This is impacting different types of asset owner in different and unexpected ways. 

The report also focuses on the rise in systemic risk putting emphasis on adopting system theory chain of thinking. It begins with investment policies that work directly on the sustainability of the system and its impacts on real-world outcomes, which can then link favourably through to longer term investment outcomes.

The new research also covers other key themes for asset owners to address, which include:
  • The shift towards decarbonisation targets demands a significant transition from investment organisations, while still maintaining their asset allocation approach and fiduciary integrity
  • There is a growing recognition of the significance of artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven strategies among asset owners
  • There are new emerging tools for dealing with the increasing complexity, such as:
    • Horizon scanning – developing a strategic vision of the industry landscape over the next 5 to 10 years
    • Rightsizing – a process of pinpointing the optimal level of ambition and commitment to sustainability in the specific context of each organisation