US-based managers continued to dominate the group, with 11 of the top 20 hailing from across the pond and BlackRock held the lead of the AUM table for the third year running with $3.5trn in total assets by the end of 2011.
BlackRock was also the fastest growing firm in the top 50 asset managers, as it saw its AUM grow 212% in the five years between 2006 and 2011.
Meanwhile, the fastest growing UK-based firm in the top 50 was HSBC, which jumped from 25th place to 13th after a 42% increase in AUM over five years.
These statistics form part of the Pensions & Investments/Towers Watson World 500, an annual report that looks to identify the biggest movers and shakers in asset management.
The report found assets managed by the world’s largest 500 fund managers fell by around 3% to $63trn in 2011, breaking a trend of the past two years which had seen assets rise by 16% and 4% in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
This takes assets below 2006’s levels of $64trn and interestingly the top 20 managers were the segment that lost the most assets, with a decline of around 7%.
Craig Baker, global head of research at Towers Watson Investment, said: “The largest 20 asset management firms were the biggest losers in 2011 with their share of assets falling significantly and reversing a strong growth trend of the past two years.
“The pressure is back on asset managers as performance fees dry up in falling markets and clients demand concessions on fees as well as exploring lower cost options. Managers that have learned the lessons of the last few years – those of tight overhead control, reducing product proliferation and better aligning fees – are more likely to have remained profitable.”