Global alternative assets under management reached $6.2
trillion in 2015 despite investors’ increasing demand for more alignment and
lower cost, according to Willis Towers Watson.
“The shift from equities and bonds to alternatives has
gained momentum among most institutional investors around the world, as these
strategies have helped manage risk through diversity,” said Brad Morrow, US
head of manager research for the consultant.
The survey found the top 100 alternative managers had
control of $3.6 trillion, more than half of total assets in the sector.
Real estate managers had the largest share of assets ($1.2
trillion), followed by hedge funds at $755 billion, private equity at $640
billion, and private equity funds-of-funds at $420 billion. Funds-of-hedge fund
managers only had $222 billion in assets.
Alternative managers also continued to be dependent on
pension fund money, with more than one-third of top 100 managers’ assets belonging
to pensions, the survey found.
Despite such investments, pension funds have been
increasingly vocal about alignment of interest and fees. Some of the largest US
pension plans—the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the New
York City Employees’ Retirement System—even pulled the plug on hedge funds over
the last few years.
Willis Towers Watson argued that meeting these pension funds’
demands could help managers attract assets from other types of investors “wanting
to make the most of market volatility and associated alpha opportunities,
particularly given the current lack of clear beta opportunities.”
The survey also revealed Macquarie Group was the largest
alternative—and infrastructure—manager with more than $95 billion in assets. Blackstone
topped the list as the largest private equity and real estate manager boasting
$94 billion in each asset. Bridgewater Associates claimed the title of largest
hedge fund manager ($88 billion) while Blackstone again was named the largest
funds-of-hedge funds managers ($66 billion).
“What’s certain is that while the asset management industry
as a whole faces some existential questions on whether it has delivered on its
promises and how to improve its value proposition in the future,” Morrow
concluded, “the best managers will continue to innovate, capture opportunities,
and deliver value to investors.”
Most Consistent Names in Alternatives