Assets under management for the 500 largest asset managers fell 3% to $91.5 trillion at the end of 2018, up from $94.4 trillion at the end of 2017, according to a report from WillisTowersWatson’s Thinking Ahead Institute. Marking the first time total asset value for the largest asset managers has decreased year over year since 2015.
BlackRock maintained its perch as the largest asset manager in the ranking for the ninth straight year with $5.98 trillion in total assets. or the fifth straight year, Vanguard and State Street came in second and third with $4.87 trillion and $2.51 trillion respectively. Rounding out the top five were Fidelity Investments with $2.42 trillion and Germany’s Allianz Group with $2.24 trillion.
Of the 10 largest asset managers seven were from the US, while two were from France (AMUNDI and AXA), and one was from Germany. And the 50 largest asset managers 27 hailed from the US.
Despite the decline in total assets under management for the top 500 asset managers, the median assets under management increased to $45.6 billion in 2018 from $44.0 billion the previous year.
Not surprisingly, India and China were the fastest growing markets for asset managers over the past five years, according to the data. From 2014 to 2018 assets under management for the Indian market surged 22.7% in US dollars, while the Chinese market grew 21.6% in US dollars over the same time period.
Other markets showing strong growth over the five-year period were Hong Kong, which was up 9.7% in US dollars respectively; South Korea, which rose 9.6%, and Canada, which increased 11.6%. By comparison, the US market grew 4.1% over the same time period.
Bucking the declining trend for 2018 were ESG assets, which grew in value by 17.8% to $8.92 trillion in 2018 from $7.57 trillion in 2017. Assets allocated to ESG mandates increased 23.3% to $1.46 trillion from $1.19 trillion the previous year. WillisTowersWatson also said that based on a survey of the asset managers, client interest in sustainable investing, including voting, increased 83% for the firms.