Assets under management at the 500 largest advisers in the world rose 16% last year, to $62 trillion, after contracting 23% the year before, according to Towers Watson and Pensions & Investments.

This was the second-biggest annual gain in assets since the two organizations started the ranking in 1996. However, managed assets were still below 2006 levels, the report said on Oct. 18, and half of these managers have been expanding asset totals through acquisitions, as opposed to via organic growth, during the past five years.

Stock markets also remain fragile and volatile, reflecting "the weak underlying economic fundamentals and the oscillating risk appetites among institutional investors," said Carl Hess, the global head of investment at Towers Watson.

The report also found that the top 20 managers' market share grew from 38% to 40%; bank-owned companies dominate their ranks. Among the top 20, 12 are U.S.-based investment managers, in control of 63% of this group's assets, up from 51%. The other eight managers are based in Europe.

"The larger firms were again the main beneficiaries of the rebound and increased their share of total assets to the highest levels since the research began," Hess said. In the past 10 years, asset managers in developing countries have doubled their share of assets, to 4%. Japanese asset managers' share, meanwhile, fell to 7%, from 13%.

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