The largest superannuation | pension funds in the world

11 September 2019 3 min. read
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The world’s 20 largest pension funds combined hold $7.3 trillion of assets under management, $1.5 trillion more than six years ago. 

Known as a superannuation fund in some countries, a pension fund is any plan, fund, or scheme which provides retirement income to its participants. These funds are commonly organised by sector or profession, and in particular in mature economies – countries which have a high propensity for pension saving or a legal framework in place for pension savings – such funds can control a massive asset base. 

According to calculations from Willis Towers Watson, pension funds today hold more than $40,100 billion in assets under management (AUM). Nearly half (45%) of these assets are held by the world’s top 300 pension funds, with the 20 largest funds globally holding 40% of that share. 

With assets under management totalling over $1.4 trillion, the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan is the world’s largest pension fund. The fund was established by the Japanese government in 2006 to pool the retirement savings of public sector professionals, in order to benefit from scale, harmonisation and tap into synergies in investment strategies. 

The 20 largest pension funds in the world

The Government Pension Fund of Norway is the second largest player, with assets of $982 billion, while the American Federal Retirement Thrift follows in third place with $579 billion. The Federal Retirement Thrift was launched by the US government to allow federal government and agency employees to enjoy the same type of savings and tax benefits that many US private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. The fund is a defined contribution plan that builds on a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment approach. 

North America is home to nine of the world’s largest pension funds – ranked sixth with assets of $377 billion is California Public Employees, Canada Pension ranks eighth with around $287 billion of pension assets under control, while California State Teachers and New York State Common rank eleventh and twelfth with over $210 billion in assets. New York City Retirement, Florida State Board and Texas Teachers round off the US’ presence, which as a country has seen its share of total pension funds rise from 24.0% to 26.3% over the last year. 

The Netherlands has two large funds that belong to the globe’s largest. Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, known as ABP, is the pension fund for government and education employees in the Netherlands. It holds $462 billion of pension assets in behalf of its participants, landing it the fifth spot overall, while PFZW – number ten globally – is the Dutch fund for professionals in the healthcare industry. 

Asia-Pacific funds’ share of the total sits at around 43%. South Korea-based National Pension is the continent’s largest pension fund with $573 billion, followed by National Social Security (China), Central Provident Fund (Singapore), Employees Provident Fund (Malaysia), Local Government Officials (Japan) and Employees' Provident (India). 

Closing the list of the 20 largest pension funds in the world is ATP, a pension fund from Denmark. The fund is a supplementary government-led pension fund – all people that work in Denmark are obliged to pay contributions to the fund.