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Towers Watson sees $5.7trn in alternative assets

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Total global alternative assets have hit $5.7trn, according to the latest research from Towers Watson.

Assets managed by the top 100 managers reached $3.3trn, up from $3.1trn in 2012.

The research covers seven asset classes and seven investor types.

Real estate managers have the largest share of assets – 31% and over $1trn – followed by private equity fund managers – 23% and $753bn – hedge funds – 22% and $724bn – private equity funds of funds (10% and $322bn – funds of hedge funds – 5% and $173bn – and infrastructure and commodities – 2%.

Towers Watson says the figures point to continued growth in alternative assets.

Craig Baker, CIO at Towers Watson, said: “For almost all of the past eleven years of this research we have seen increasing allocations to alternative assets by a wide range of investors. Not only has the appeal of alternative assets broadened to include many more insurers and sovereign wealth funds, but the range of alternative assets has also increased beyond the likes of hedge funds and infrastructure to include real assets, illiquid credit and commodities. It is therefore not surprising that allocations to alternative assets by pension funds, for example, now account for around 18% of all pension fund assets globally, up from 5% fifteen years ago.”

“Pension funds continue to search for new investment opportunities and alternative assets have been an area where they have made, and continue to make, very significant allocations. While remaining an important investor for traditional alternative managers, pension funds are also at the forefront of investing in new alternatives, for example in real assets and illiquid credit. But they are by no means the only type of institutional investor looking for capacity with the top alternatives managers. Demand from insurers, endowments & foundations and sovereign wealth funds is on the up and only going to increase in the future as competition for returns remains fierce.”

Towers Watson’s figures suggest that Macquarie Group, Bridgewater Associated and Blackstone constitute the top three alternative investment managers by assets.

However, the focus of these assets under management vary between the groups.

Macquarie is the biggest infrastructure manager, while Blackstone is the biggest real estate manager and the biggest fund of hedge funds manager, Towers Watson said.

Goldman Sachs is the biggest private equity manager, while the Carlyle Solutions Group is the biggest private equity fund of funds manager. Bridgewater is the biggest hedge fund manager, BlackRock the biggest commodities manager, M&G the biggest illiquid credit manager and Ell Capital Management the biggest manager of real assets.


The top 25 ranking
PositionName of parent organisationMain place of domicileTotal AUM $mAsset Class
1Macquarie GroupAustralia96,347.90Direct Infrastructure Funds
2Bridgewater AssociatesUnited States87,108.00Direct Hedge Funds
3BlackstoneUnited States70,405.29Direct Real Estate Funds
4UBS Global Asset ManagementSwitzerland64,096.40Direct Real Estate Funds
5AXA Real EstateFrance60,936.19Direct Real Estate Funds
6The Goldman Sachs GroupUnited States60,206.00Direct Private Equity Funds
7TPG Capital***United States59,000.00Direct Private Equity Funds
8J. P. Morgan Asset Management*United States59,000.00Direct Hedge Funds
9Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.United States54,845.00Direct Private Equity Funds
10BlackstoneUnited States54,292.90Funds of Hedge Funds
11CBRE Global InvestorsUnited States53,700.00Direct Real Estate Funds
12BlackRockUnited States53,431.30Direct Commodities Funds
13Apollo Global ManagementUnited States49,000.00Direct Private Equity Funds
14LaSalle Investment ManagementUnited States47,989.00Direct Real Estate Funds
15Carlyle Solutions GroupUnited States47,759.90Private Equity FoF
16CVC Capital PartnersLuxembourg42,478.30Direct Private Equity Funds
17BlackstoneUnited States42,400.97Direct Private Equity Funds
18The Goldman Sachs GroupUnited States42,223.50Private Equity FoF
19J.P. Morgan Asset ManagementUnited States41,615.70Direct Real Estate Funds
20Credit Suisse Asset ManagementUnited States41,178.10Direct Real Estate Funds
21Och-Ziff Capital Management GroupUnited States40,600.00Direct Hedge Funds
22Principal Global InvestorsUnited States40,264.70Direct Real Estate Funds
23Deutsche Asset & Wealth ManagementGermany40,134.20Direct Real Estate Funds
24Apax Partners**United Kingdom40,000.00Direct Private Equity Funds
25Providence Equity Partners***United States40,000.00Direct Private Equity Funds
* Data derived from the Global Billion Dollar Club, published by HedgeFund Intelligence
** Figures show total capital raised since inception, obtained from publicly available sources
*** Figures show total assets under management, obtained from publicly available sources


Overall survey statistics
Manager TypeFoHF*Hedge Funds*Private Equity FoF*Private Equity Funds*Real Estate FundsCommodities FundsInfrastructure FundsReal AssetsIlliquid CreditTotal
Investor Type $bn
Top 100 total assets172.5723.9321.6752.61,020.6078.6120.677.73,268.20
Top 100 Pension Fund assets94.1162.8264.8199478.416.6108.56.725.41,356.30
Top 25 Insurance Company assets16.711.932.25.41726.130.7274.9
Top 25 Sovereign Wealth Fund assets17.323.97.937.151.6114.3153.1
Top 25 Endowment & Foundation assets8.717.5520.616.745.44.982.8
Top 25 Fund of Fund assets40.649.93.55.699.5
Top 25 Wealth Manager assets3965.443.419159.926.9425.6
Top 25 Bank assets25.723.24.612.434.
* Figures for some of these managers were obtained from publicly available sources and using data derived from the Global Billion Dollar Club, published by HedgeFund Intelligence


Jonathan Boyd
Editorial Director of Open Door Media Publishing Ltd, and Editor of InvestmentEurope. Jonathan has over two decades of media experience in Japan, Australia, Canada and the UK. Over the past 17 years he has been based in London writing about funds and investments. From editing the newsletter of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan in the 1990s he now focuses on Nordic markets for InvestmentEurope. Jonathan was awarded Editor of the Year at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Independent Publisher Awards 2017. Shortlisted for the same in 2016, he was also shortlisted in 2017 and 2015 for the broader PPA Awards category Editor of the Year (Business Media).

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