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Asset management industry set to grow by up to 5.6% per annum

Currently controlling more than US$110tn (more than 20 times the US federal budget), the power the asset and wealth management industry has in shaping the future is unparalleled. With global assets under management projected to grow by up to 5.6% per annum to US$147.4 trillion by 2025, it can shape a future which is better for investors, shareholders, the economy and the wider society. This is according to PwC’s new global report ‘Asset and Wealth Management Revolution: The Power to Shape the Future’ published today drawing on data, analysis and expert insights as well as the econometric modelling of PwC’s Asset and Wealth Management (AWM) Research Centre.

The report focuses on a number of key findings and areas for the industry to address, which are pivotal to helping the global economy. Asset and wealth management firms can:

  • Fund the future: There is a widening funding gap which will need to be filled to support recovering economies.
  • Provide for the future: With aging populations, widening pension gaps and challenging demographics, the AWM industry has a key role to play in supporting investors in meeting their savings’ goals.
  • Embrace ESG as the future: With US$110 trillion in assets under management, and growing, this industry has the power to literally change the world from an ESG perspective.

Repair, reconfigure and report are the key areas the industry needs to address as it rethinks its strategy to be fit for the future.

Olwyn Alexander, PwC Global Asset & Wealth Management Leader, commented: “Asset and wealth management firms can channel capital and target investment opportunities to lift economies out of recession. It is important to understand the power the industry has in influencing the future. A better future for everyone; investors, shareholders and the economy as a whole. The world we leave for future generations matters. The industry can act now to realise beneficial change.

“While financial return will always be important, increasingly investors are deciding that social return is just as important. What we’re seeing is asset and wealth management firms that deliver standout returns on both the social and financial fronts will be the clear winners over the coming decade — magnets for investment and able to sustain superior returns for shareholders and partners.”

According to the report, the industry can be a powerful engine of recovery and a force for good in a world facing uncertainty and upheaval. Funding the future, providing for the future and embracing environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters are pivotal to this.

Funding the future: Asset and wealth management firms can achieve superior fund returns as alternative providers of capital.

At US$41 trillion, non-bank lending now exceeds bank lending in advanced economies and continuing low interest rates, coupled with higher capital adequacy ratios, will increase pressure on banks and their ability to lend. This has created an opportunity for private market funds to help finance businesses with strong growth potential but limited access to mainstream funding. By engaging in financing all along the capital structure, the AWM industry can address one of the key goals of the EU’s Capital Markets Union Action plan and improve the private capital markets.

Providing for the future

Pension fund assets are expected to grow to almost US$65tn by 2025.

Within retirement saving, specifically, pension funds now manage more than $50tn in pension assets, and we forecast that this will grow to almost $65tn by 2025. Providing for the future is the other side of the coin to funding the future — the more wealth we can create as a society, the more we can save and the more that will be available to invest. And as people live longer, the asset and wealth management industry can contribute to the resolution of escalating pension gaps and retirement poverty. Saving cash on deposit is no longer tenable in a world of ultra low interest rates and fixed income yields, forcing savers to look for higher yielding, attractive options.

Assets under management in infrastructure funds are expected to double by 2025.

Further opportunities for asset and wealth management firms to provide for the future include making up for the growing shortfall in available infrastructure investment, especially from governments. Within developed markets, there are considerable openings to refurbish roads, airports, hospitals and other such opportunities while accelerating developments in areas such as 5G and renewable energy. As a result, we expect assets under management in infrastructure funds to double by 2025.

Embracing ESG as the future: ESG-aligned funds cumulatively have already outperformed their traditional counterparts.

Increasingly, investors are putting the environmental and social profile of AWM firms on a level playing field with financial return. A growing number of investors expect asset and wealth management firms to make environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues integral to their investment strategies. This shift is already having a revolutionary impact on product design, fund allocation and performance objectives.

PwC’s analysis shows that ESG-aligned funds cumulatively outperformed their traditional counterparts by 9% from 2010 to 2019. Research also shows that diverse companies, in which more than 30% of leaders are women, are, on average, 15% more profitable than those that aren’t diverse, and businesses that score highly on sustainability tend to outperform those that don’t.

A few tech fixes here or a nod to investors’ ESG demands there won’t be enough to survive and thrive in an industry where the front-runners are already embracing these changes and seizing the opportunities.