Assets managed by the world's largest 500 fund managers have finally broken through the peak set in 2007 before the financial crisis.
The combined assets under management rose nearly 12% during last year to $76.5 trillion (€61 trillion), easily exceeding the 2007 level of $69 trillion, according to a survey by investment consultancy Towers Watson.
Thanks to consistent growth in the last six years, total assets of the 500 firms in the survey are now double what they were in 2002.
A major trend revealed by the data is the rise of independently owned asset managers. Over the past ten years, the number of independent managers in the top 20 by size doubled, the result of banks and insurance companies divesting subsidiaries to reduce their risks and meet capital adequacy requirements.
"During this time there have been a number of high profile sales which have impacted where assets are domiciled, and the US has been the biggest beneficiary of this trend," says Luba Nikulina, global head of research at Towers Watson Investment.
The eagerness of American firms to buy up asset managers has increased the country's share of assets such that US firms now account for two-thirds of all assets in the top 500. Twelve of the firms in the top 20 are based in the US, including BlackRock, the largest firm in the world by assets with $4.3 trillion as of the end of 2013.
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