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Willis Towers Watson Global Pension Assets Study 2018

The Global Pension Assets Study covers 22 major pension markets (the P22), which now totals USD 41,355 billion in pension assets and account for 67.0% of the GDP of these economies. The study includes an analysis of the seven largest markets (the P7) which includes Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK and US and comprises 91% of total pension assets.

Key Results:

Global asset data for the P22 in 2017

  • The US (61.4%), continues to be the largest market in terms of pension assets followed by the UK (7.5%) and Japan (7.4%).
  • Total pensions assets to GDP ratio were 67% at the end of 2017.
  • The Netherlands continues to have the highest ratio of pension assets to GDP (194%) followed by Australia (138%) and Switzerland (133%).
  • The average ten-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) figures (in USD) for P22 markets is 4.2%.
  • Whilst the US continues to hold the largest weighting (61%) within the P22, the weights of Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and UK have declined relative to the other markets in the study.
  • Ten-year figures (in local currency) show the Netherlands grew its pension assets the most as a proportion of GDP by 68% to reach 194%, followed by the UK (88% to 121%), Canada (83% to 108%) and the US (106% to 131%).

Asset Allocation for the P7

  • Equities allocations for the P7 markets have decreased by 11% in aggregate during the past 20 years (57% to 46%).
  • Allocations to bonds have also fallen in P7 markets during the same period, from 35% in 1997 to 27% in 2017.
  • Pension fund assets managed by the top 100 alternative asset managers rose to USD 1,612 billion in 2017 according to Willis Towers Watson’s Global Alternatives Survey.
  • The Netherlands (43% to 50%), Japan (50% to 56%), and the UK (30% to 35%) are the three markets which have increased allocations to bonds by the largest amount during the past ten years.

DC / DB assets for P7

  • In 2017, Australia continued to have the highest proportion of DC to DB pension assets, with 87% of its total pension assets in DC funds.
  • DC pension assets have grown from around 33% in 1997 to 49% in 2017 of total pension assets.
  • Japan (96%), Canada (95%) and the Netherlands (94%) and the UK (81%) continue to be markets dominated by DB pensions assets.


The P22 refers to the 22 largest pension markets included in the study which are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

The P7 refers to the 7 largest pension markets (91.7% of total assets in the study): Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK and US.

All figures are rounded and 2017 figures are estimates. All dates refer to the calendar end of that year.

Download the Report: Global Pension Assets Study 2018


About the Thinking Ahead Institute

The Thinking Ahead Institute is a global not-for-profit member organisation whose aim is to influence change in the investment world for the benefit of savers. The Institute’s members comprise asset owners, investment managers and other groups that are motivated to influence the industry for the good of savers worldwide and is an outgrowth of Willis Towers Watson Investments’ Thinking Ahead Group.


About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW ) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. is a leading source of information, data, research and resource for financial professionals in Asia.

Collectively, they manage more than $20 Trillion assets in Asia in Private Banking, Wealth Management, Multi-Family Office, Family Office, Fund Management, Asset Management, Insurance, Private Equity and Hedge Funds.  View latest jobs in Banks, Private Banks, IFAs, Fund Management here or join our mailing list or receive updates here

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