The $34.9 trillion managed by Asia’s 300 largest institutional investors was up very slightly (1.8%) from last year’s figure, with changing market valuations – and particularly currency shifts – having a major impact.

Quantitative easing by central banks – designed to create new money, support asset prices and encourage greater spending – was a big factor here.

For the first time since AsianInvestor started this survey, China has overtaken Japan as the largest market, with $13.6 trillion. A big caveat here, however, is that we restrict Japan to its top 50 or so names to prevent the list being overrun. Japanese institutional assets totalled $10.98 trillion – a hefty 13.5% decline on its figure last year.

Currency manipulation has clearly had a divergent impact on the two markets’ assets under management in US dollar terms.

One standout finding is the rising relevance of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). While central banks house the most assets by institution type, with $13.4 trillion, the SWF segment grew the most, up 8.7% on last year to $1.8 trillion.

In percentage terms, the trend was led by Brunei Investment Agency, which saw its AUM surge 33% to $40 billion. It was followed by Singapore’s GIC, up 29.3% to $320 billion (admittedly an estimate, as GIC doesn’t publicise its figure]; China Investment Corporation, up 19.3% to $575 billion; and Korea Investment Corporation, up 17% to $72 billion.

CIC has now risen above Safe Investment to become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the region (excluding the Middle East). And GIC’s increase means it overtakes the Monetary Authority of Singapore as the city-state’s largest asset owner.

China and Japan account for 17 of the top 20 institutions in our list this year (see below), along with Taiwan’s central bank and South Korea’s National Pension Service and Public Capital Management Fund. The latter snatched a top 20 spot from China’s Bank of Communications because of its strong AUM growth.

The People’s Bank of China continues to sit comfortably at the top of the pile, with its foreign reserves having increased 15% to $3.95 trillion – it is the region’s fastest growing central bank.

After China and Japan, South Korea is the next largest market with $2.45 trillion in assets, as represented in the AI300, followed by Australia with $1.9 trillion. In the latter, AustralianSuper was the fastest riser with a 46% AUM increase.

AsianInvestor would like to thank everyone who helped our editorial team, and our head of polls Bernice Cornforth, for their painstaking work to compile this list. This includes many of the institutions themselves, as well as Nomura Research Institute, Towers Watson, regional fund managers and individuals with an eye for these things.