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Towers Watson: Global Pension Fund Assets Up 12% for 2010

Posted on 08 Feb 2011

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Global institutional pension fund assets in the 13 major markets increased by 12% during 2010 to reach a new high of US$ 26 trillion according to Towers Watson’s Global Pension Assets Study released on Monday. The growth is the continuation of a trend which started in 2009 when assets grew 17%, but in sharp contrast to a 21% fall during 2008 which took assets back to 2006 levels. Global pension fund assets have grown 66% since 2000, when they were valued at US$16 trillion.

The study also reveals that pension fund balance sheets globally continued to strengthen during 2010, although the global asset/liability ratio is still well down from its 1998 level. According to the study, pension assets now amount to 76% of the global GDP (71% in 2009), substantially higher than the equivalent figure of 61% in 2008.

Carl Hess, global head of investment at Towers Watson, said: “The global financial crisis is still with us and the ongoing aftershocks are a continual reminder that the nascent economic recovery is still very tenuous. While nervousness about the volatility of markets and extreme events is just below the surface, there is broad acceptance that this is the new normal and that investors will need investment strategies that are more flexible and adaptable than they have been in the past. So while the recovery of the markets is to be welcomed, it should not distract from the major issues confronting the industry and the weaknesses in the system which governments and companies must face up to.”