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Biggest pension funds hold nearly $15 trillion

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All debate aside about how well prepared people are for retirement, pension funds are racking up some impressive totals.

In fact, the 300 largest pension funds globally total nearly $15 trillion, up by over 6 percent in 2013, according to research from Towers Watson.

Broken down by region, the most impressive growth was not in the U.S. Instead, Latin American and African funds had the highest five-year combined compound growth rate, increasing more than 16 percent.

Europe came next, with a 12 percent rate of growth. North America acquitted itself with only 6 percent, leaving only the Asia/Pacific region to trail by a single percentage point at 5 percent. 

If North America as a whole didn’t see a huge growth rate, the U.S. by itself did account for the largest share of pension fund assets, 36 percent. 

Thanks to its Government Pension Investment Fund, Japan held the second-largest market share at about 13 percent. That fund is at the top of the size rankings globally, with assets of about $1.2 trillion. It’s been the largest fund in the world for the past 10 years. 

“Quantitative easing (QE) and easy monetary conditions have provided an unexpected tailwind for equity markets for the last five years or so, which continued strongly in 2013,” said Chris Ford, global head of investment at Towers Watson. “This clearly helped many funds given their high allocation to equities.”


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