The world’s largest pension funds – 2021

Top pension fund assets rise strongly despite pandemic uncertainty

The P&I 300 is an annual study on the world’s 300 largest pension funds conducted by the Thinking Ahead Institute, in conjunction with Pensions and Investments. The research highlights high-level trends in the pension funds industry and provides information on how the characteristics of these top funds have changed.

Key findings

  • The world’s leading pension funds covered in this survey have sustained respectable growth in recent years, amounting to 7.9% per annum in the past five years
  • However, the pandemic has been a stark reminder of how the world is more interconnected and uncertain today than ever before – reinforcing our belief around systems-thinking
  • Pension fund boards are increasingly focused on managing many of the headwinds that have arisen from a ‘new normal’ of lower-for-longer interest rates, which has prompted concerns around solvency and led some schemes to increasingly stretch their risk budgets in order to meet return targets
  • Additionally, rising ESG expectations have led to more complex goals coming from sustainability such as meeting net-zero targets and managing real-world impact. As a result, pension fund boards’ agendas have become more complex and demanding than at any previous time
  • Pension funds boards are seeking to redefine their investment models aligned with systems-thinking, by adopting the concepts of Total Portfolio Approach, 3D investing and Universal Ownership ​
  • US$ 170 billion (AUM) is the entry level for the top 20 grouping. These larger funds are championing technology, culture and governance as a means to successfully manage the transformational change that is coming.

Download full study

Podcast | Listen to the headline findings

Samar Khanna, Roger Urwin and Marisa Hall discuss the key insights from the P&I 300

P&I 300 infographic 2021
Source: Thinking Ahead Institute

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