SINGAPORE (Oct 29): The total assets under management (AUM) of the world’s top 500 fund managers surged to US$9.8 trillion ($13.5 trillion) in 2017, 15.6% higher than 2016, according to the latest Global 500 research from Willis Towers Watson’s Thinking Ahead Institute.

Moreover, the concentration of assets managed by the top 20 largest managers have reached an all-time high since inception in 2000, and now account for more than 43% of the top 500 managers’ total AUM.

According to the research, AUM of managers in Asia Pacific in the global ranking came up to $1.8 trillion, a 17% increase from the previous year.

In Europe (including UK), AUM increased by 15.8% y-o-y and North America saw AUM increase by 15.1% y-o-y.

In Asia Pacific, Japan represents the largest share of AUM worth US$4.5 trillion, followed by Australia with an AUM of $1.3 trillion, and China with about US$1.1 trillion in AUM.

Among the top 500 fund managers, BlackRock remains the largest asset manager in the rankings, a position it has held since 2008, and Vanguard and State Street complete the top three, for the fourth successive year.

The research also found that about 81% of managers surveyed saw an increase in client interest in sustainable investing, including voting, and while nearly 74% increased resources deployed to deal with technology and big data.

Jayne Bok, Head of Investments, Asia Pacific says, “Asia, ex-Japan, equities experienced the best performance over 2017. The strong equity returns helped boost the growth in managers’ AUM with a higher exposure to Asia. Investors should consider diversifying sources of return in constructing a portfolio that can withstand a wide range of economic environments.”

“On the surface, the numbers might appear to tell a story of steady growth and of stability. But when you look at broader developments within and beyond the industry, there are signs that the industry is facing significant change,” adds Bok.