Traditionally the United States of America and Japan have been home to the top pension funds in the world. They are joined by countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Canada. Research indicates that there is significant growth in Australia and Germany as well. Research also indicates that currently the Asia-Pacific region may be pulling ahead of the European region for the first time in the history of pension funds. The United States however remains as the home of top pension funds with assets totaling USD 4.7 trillion.
In 2009 certain research indicated that the United States held a 36% market share of the top pension funds, which was down from 54% in 2002, largely due to a week dollar. During the same time Japan held 18% of the market, which was an increase over the 13% they previously held. The United Kingdom held 6%, down from 9%; the Netherlands maintained a 6% share of the top pension fund market; and Canada was up slightly to 5% over the previously held 4%. Top Pension Funds around the world include the Government Pension Fund of Norway, Government Pension Investment Fund (Japan), Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP (Netherlands), The Quebec Pension Fund (Canada), Korean National Pension Service, California Public Employees Retirement System (USA), Employees Provident Fund (Malaysia), PFZW, formerly PGGM (Netherlands), CPP Investment Board (Canada), and the National Pension Reserve Fund (Ireland).
That same research indicated that the top 10 sovereign wealth pension funds were the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan with assets of USD 1.3 million, the Government Pension Fund Global of Norway, the National Pension fund of Korea, the Central Provident Fund of Singapore, the Canada Pension Fund, National Social Security of China, GEPF of South Africa, Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia, the Fondo de Reserva Seguridad of Spain, and the Future Fund of Australia. The growth of these sovereign wealth pension funds had recently been fueled by the expanding East Asian foreign exchange reserves and the need for oil-rich countries to replace income being lost due to diminishing oil reserves. Sovereign wealth funds are investment funds owned by a government instead of being directed by the pensioners themselves.
Assets held by the 300 top pension funds totaled approximately USD 11.3 trillion in 2009, which was an increase of around USD 1 trillion. However, despite growth over the last year globally, compound annual growth has fallen to just over 6% on an annual basis for the last 5 years. Many experts are wondering if a historical 8% growth rate is a thing of the past. Hopefully the top pension funds will prove to be strong into the future as they have been in the past.