The 20 largest pension funds of the globe

27 October 2017

The total assets of the 300 largest pension funds worldwide increased by about 6% in 2016 to $15.7 trillion. Worryingly for the UK, not one of the nation’s pension funds made the top 20 of the list, with Britain now accounting for just under 5% of the global pension pot.

Annually updated research by Willis Towers Watson has revealed that the 20 largest pension funds together hold about 43.2% of total global pension assets. This further consolidation of resources from 2015, when they accounted for 42.5%, is mainly the result of stronger growth among the major players in the pension landscape – while compound growth in the top 20 has risen 7.1% more than the average (based on equity).

Looking at the main countries where pension funds are housed, the United States maintained its grip on the top rank, with a 38.6% share. Seven of the top 20 pension funds are based in the US. Composite growth was highest across the North American continent in general over the last five years, with a growth of 6.7% in the measured period. Pension funds in Europe and Asia-Pacific grew by a slower 3.1% and 2.8%, respectively. Reflecting this, Canada usurped the UK as the country with the fifth highest collective pension fund, accounting for 5.4% of the global sum. The UK, which saw its percentage fall from 5.4% to 4.8% since 2015, is now some distance behind fellow its European economy of the Netherlands, the third ranked locale, on 6.4%.

The 20 largest pension funds in the world

Last year only one British scheme made the top 50. The BT Group which has accumulated $68 billion to ensure it can pay employees past and present sufficient retirement income was followed by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), with big banks’ and utility companies’ schemes close behind. While BT may have only just made the top 50, the study’s lower sections were loaded with UK pensions in 2015, as they were this year.

The BBC, with around 20,000 employees, ranked in the top 300, thanks to a war chest of over $20 billion meanwhile, in contrast to Tesco, with 500,000 workers, yet much further down the list due its mere $16 billion fund.

According to Roger Urwin, Global Head of Investment Content at Willis Towers Watson, there are differences in performance between funds across Europe. Pension funds with a Defined Benefit (DB) scheme grew by 5.6% in 2016, defined contribution plans (Defined Contribution) by 9.6% and reserve funds by 3.9%. In the hybrid pension funds there was a growth of almost 2.9%. After a 0.8% decline in 2015, state funds again grew by 6.5% in 2016.

Urwin said, "This result is mainly due to the fact that the largest pension funds managed to adapt to the changes in the investment climate. They implemented improvements in the board and competitors learned from each other. Implementing best practices and sound policies within the organisations has strengthened the position of pension funds. This will also play a major role in determining their success in the future.”

In future, pension funds are advised to continue to innovate in the face of increasing competition and even disruption. Urwin concluded, "For example, innovation can be through streamlined asset management, investment strategies focused on smart beta or factor investing, and better ways to access private markets. Sustainability, both in the field of ESG (environmental, social and governance factors) as ownership responsibilities, is an innovative trend that we saw in 2016."

Related: De-risking sees European pension assets move to bonds from equities.


10 leading consulting companies to work for in the UK

10 April 2019

The UK is home to 100+ leading consulting firms. New analysis reveals the 10 consulting companies that rank as the best industry employers to work for. 

The list of top consultancy employers is based on the views and opinions of employees who were surveyed by The Sunday Times about their experience of their firm’s leadership, workplace environment, development opportunities, wellbeing, pay, benefits and commitment to social responsibility. In the large consulting firms category, two of the Big Four – EY and Deloitte – and Accenture stand out from the rest. Seven other consultancies made the prestigious cut, all of which are small to mid-sized players in the consulting industry. 


Established: 1989
Category: Large consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 15,076 

With roots stretching back to 1989, EY now spans over 27 UK offices. The firm supports clients, ranging from small, privately owned companies and global household names, with assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. As part of the firm’s core values, EY looks for people who demonstrate integrity and respect; people with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to lead; and people who build relationships based on doing the right thing. 


Established: 1849
Category: Large consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 16,138 

Deloitte employs staff across 150 countries and territories, and its UK operations now span 24 offices. The professional services giant offers services including audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory. Among the firm’s core values are: integrity, outstanding value to markets and clients, commitment to each other, and strength from cultural diversity.


Established: 1989
Category: Large consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 10,747 

With employees across 120 countries, Accenture provides a range of services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations to clients in more than 40 industries. The Dublin-headquartered company believes in attracting, developing and retaining the best talent for the business, valuing diversity, fostering an open working environment and demonstrating integrity at all times.Ten leading consulting companies to work for in the UK

Karmarama (part of Accenture)

Established: 2000
Category: Mid-sized consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 245 

Karmarama is a creative agency, since December 2016 part of Accenture Interactive. The firm’s services include advertising, direct and digital marketing, digital design and build, data and analytics, PR, social and innovation. Karmarama is in the market known for its ability to blend creativity, digital and data, to help brands better engage with consumers. 


Established: 2010
Category: Small consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 90

Clarasys is a London-based management consulting firm that advises and supports clients with business change, process implementation, project management and other related consultancy services. The firm serves a variety of clients, from small, not-for-profit organisations to multinational corporations. Clarasys differentiates itself through its truly democratic approach, with an elected member from each team providing feedback for their department. 

The Berkeley Partnership

Established: 1990
Category: Small consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 90

The Berkeley Partnership is an independent management consultancy providing specialist support for transformational change, working side-by-side with clients to achieve their goals. Clients include a number of FTSE 100 companies, multinationals and government departments, with over 85% of clients using the services of The Berkeley Partnership more than once. 

Abbott Risk Consulting

Established: 2002
Category: Small consulting firm
Main office: Edinburgh
Employees: 69

From 12 sites across the UK and Australia, Abbott Risk Consulting provides safety and risk environment consultancy services to some of the most high-hazard industries in the global economy. The company helps to work out the risk associated with hazardous events, such as oil platforms explosions, train crashes, or accidents affecting nuclear power stations.

Alpha Financial Markets Consulting

Established: 2003
Category: Small consulting firm
Main office: London
Employees: 180 

Alpha Financial Markets Consulting is a provider of specialist consultancy services to the asset and wealth management industry, working with 85% of the world’s top 20 asset managers. In order to attract and retain the very best people, Alpha, which has offices in London, New York, Boston, Paris, Geneva, The Hague, Luxembourg and Singapore, seeks to provide employees with a great experience.

Lane4 Management Group

Established: 1995
Category: Small consulting firm
Main office: Maidenhead
Employees: 193 

Lane4 Management Group is a leading HR consultancy specialised in human performance. The company’s team, based in Buckinghamshire, builds on a track record of achievement in business, psychology and elite sport. Lane4 was founded by British Olympic gold swimmer Adrian Moorhouse, Graham Jones and Adrian Hutchinson. 

NHS Transformation Unit

Established: 2000
Category: Internal consulting firm
Main office: Manchester
Employees: 52 

The Transformation Unit is an internal consultancy of the NHS, based in Manchester. The firm provides consultancy services to the public sector based around strategic transformation and planning; finance and analytics; project and programme management; and organisational strategy and engagement. Services span the complete transformation cycle, from developing a case for change right through to implementing new services or systems. 


The top employers list of The Sunday Times further includes several other professional services firms that also provide consultancy services, including firms with an accounting heritage (Anderson Anderson and Brown, BHP, PKF Cooper Parry, Price Bailey), firms with an engineering heritage (BWB Consulting, Caunton Engineering) and those with a tax heritage (ForrestBrown).