Visualized: The World’s Largest Sovereign Wealth Funds
Did you know that some of the world’s largest investment funds are owned by national governments?
Known as sovereign wealth funds (SWF), these vehicles are often established with seed money that is generated by government-owned industries. If managed responsibly and given a long enough timeframe, an SWF can accumulate an enormous amount of assets.
In this infographic, we’ve detailed the world’s 10 largest SWFs, along with the largest mutual fund and ETF for context.
The Big Picture
Data collected from SWFI in October 2021 ranks Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (also known as the Norwegian Oil Fund) as the world’s largest SWF.
The world’s 10 largest sovereign wealth funds (with fund size benchmarks) are listed below:
|Country||Fund Name||Fund Type||Assets Under Management (AUM)|
|🇳🇴 Norway||Government Pension Fund Global||SWF||$1.3 trillion|
|🇺🇸 U.S.||Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund||Mutual fund||$1.3 trillion|
|🇨🇳 China||China Investment Corporation||SWF||$1.2 trillion|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||Kuwait Investment Authority||SWF||$693 billion|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Abu Dhabi Investment Authority||SWF||$649 billion|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Hong Kong Monetary Authority Investment Portfolio||SWF||$581 billion|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Government of Singapore Investment Corporation||SWF||$545 billion|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Temasek||SWF||$484 billion|
|🇨🇳 China||National Council for Social Security Fund||SWF||$447 billion|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia||SWF||$430 billion|
|🇺🇸 U.S.||State Street SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust||ETF||$391 billion|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Investment Corporation of Dubai||SWF||$302 billion|
SWF AUM gathered on 10/08/2021. VTSAX and SPY AUM as of 09/30/2021.
So far, just two SWFs have surpassed the $1 trillion milestone. To put this in perspective, consider that the world’s largest mutual fund, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX), is a similar size, investing in U.S. large-, mid-, and small-cap equities.
The Trillion Dollar Club
The world’s two largest sovereign wealth funds have a combined $2.5 trillion in assets. Here’s a closer look at their underlying portfolios.
1. Government Pension Fund Global – $1.3 Trillion (Norway)
Norway’s SWF was established after the country discovered oil in the North Sea. The fund invests the revenue coming from this sector to safeguard the future of the national economy. Here’s a breakdown of its investments.
|Asset Class||% of Total Assets||Country Diversification||Number of Securities|
|Public Equities||72.8%||69 countries||9,123 companies|
|Fixed income||24.7%||45 countries||1,245 bonds|
|Real estate||2.5%||14 countries||867 properties|
As of 12/31/2020
Real estate may be a small part of the portfolio, but it’s an important component for diversification (real estate is less correlated to the stock market) and generating income. Here are some U.S. office towers that the fund has an ownership stake in.
|601 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY||45.0%|
|475 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY||49.9%|
|33 Arch Street, Boston, MA||49.9%|
|100 First Street, San Francisco, CA||44.0%|
As of 12/31/2020
Overall, the fund has investments in 462 properties in the U.S. for a total value of $14.9 billion.
2. China Investment Corporation (CIC) – $1.2 Trillion (China)
The CIC is the largest of several Chinese SWFs, and was established to diversify the country’s foreign exchange holdings.
Compared to the Norwegian fund, the CIC invests in a greater variety of alternatives. This includes real estate, of course, but also private equity, private credit, and hedge funds.
|Asset Class||% of Total Assets|
As of 12/31/2020
A primary focus of the CIC has been to increase its exposure to American infrastructure and manufacturing. By the end of 2020, 57% of the fund was invested in the United States.
“According to our estimate, the United States needs at least $8 trillion in infrastructure investments. There’s not sufficient capital from the U.S. government or private sector. It has to rely on foreign investments.”
– Ding Xuedong, Chairman, China Investment Corporation
This has drawn suspicion from U.S. regulators given the geopolitical tensions between the two countries. For further reading on the topic, consider this 2017 paper by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Preparing for a Future Without Oil
Many of the countries associated with these SWFs are known for their robust fossil fuel industries. This includes Middle Eastern nations like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Oil has been an incredible source of wealth for these countries, but it’s unlikely to last forever. Some analysts believe that we could even see peak oil demand before 2030—though this doesn’t mean that oil will stop being an important resource.
Regardless, oil-producing countries are looking to hedge their reliance on fossil fuels. Their SWFs play an important role by taking oil revenue and investing it to generate returns and/or bolster other sectors of the economy.
An example of this is Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which supports the country’s Vision 2030 framework by investing in clean energy and other promising sectors.
The 20 Most Common Investing Mistakes, in One Chart
Here are the most common investing mistakes to avoid, from emotionally-driven investing to paying too much in fees.
The 20 Most Common Investing Mistakes
No one is immune to errors, including the best investors in the world.
Fortunately, investing mistakes can provide valuable lessons over time, providing investors an opportunity to gain insights on investing—and build more resilient portfolios.
This graphic shows the top 20 most common investing mistakes to watch out for, according to the CFA Institute.
20 Investment Mistakes to Avoid
From emotionally-driven investment decisions to paying too much on fees, here are some of the most common investing mistakes:
|Top 20 Mistakes||Description|
|1. Expecting Too Much||Having reasonable return expectations helps investors keep a long-term view without reacting emotionally.
|2. No Investment Goals||Often investors focus on short-term returns or the latest investment craze instead of their long-term investment goals.
|3. Not Diversifying||Diversifying prevents a single stock from drastically impacting the value of your portfolio.
|4. Focusing on the Short Term||It’s easy to focus on the short term, but this can make investors second-guess their original strategy and make careless decisions.
|5. Buying High and Selling Low||Investor behavior during market swings often hinders overall performance.
|6. Trading Too Much||One study shows that the most active traders underperformed the U.S. stock market by 6.5% on average annually. Source: The Journal of Finance
|7. Paying Too Much in Fees||Fees can meaningfully impact your overall investment performance, especially over the long run.
|8. Focusing Too Much on Taxes||While tax-loss harvesting can boost returns, making a decision solely based on its tax consequences may not always be merited.
|9. Not Reviewing Investments Regularly||Review your portfolio quarterly or annually to make sure you’re staying on track or if your portfolio is in need of rebalancing.
|10. Misunderstanding Risk||Too much risk can take you out of your comfort zone, but too little risk may result in lower returns that do not reach your financial goals. Recognize the right balance for your personal situation.
|11. Not Knowing Your Performance||Often, investors don’t actually know the performance of their investments. Review your returns to track if you are meeting your investment goals factoring in fees and inflation.
|12. Reacting to the Media||Negative news in the short-term can trigger fear, but remember to focus on the long run.
|13. Forgetting About Inflation||Historically, inflation has averaged 4% annually.
Value of $100 at 4% Annual Inflation
After 1 Year: $96
After 20 Years: $44
|14. Trying to Time the Market||Market timing is extremely hard. Staying in the market can generate much higher returns versus trying to time
the market perfectly.
|15. Not Doing Due Diligence||Check the credentials of your advisor through sites like BrokerCheck, which shows their employment history and complaints.
|16. Working With the Wrong Advisor||Taking the time to find the right advisor is worth it. Vet your advisor carefully to ensure your goals are aligned.
|17. Investing With Emotions||Although it can be challenging, remember to stay rational during market fluctuations.
|18. Chasing Yield||High-yielding investments often carry the highest risk. Carefully assess your risk profile before investing in these types of assets.
|19. Neglecting to Start||Consider two people investing $200 monthly assuming a 7% annual rate of return until the age of 65. If one person started at age 25, their end portfolio would be $520K, if the other started at 35 it would total about $245K.
|20. Not Controlling What You Can||While no one can predict the market, investors can control small contributions over time, which can have powerful outcomes.
For instance, not properly diversifying can expose you to higher risk. Holding one concentrated position can drastically impact the value of your portfolio when prices fluctuate.
In fact, one study shows that the optimal diversification for a large-cap portfolio is holding 15 stocks. In this way, it helps capture the highest possible return relative to risk. When it came to a small-cap portfolio, the number of stocks rose to 26 for optimal risk reduction.
It’s worth noting that one size does not fit all, and seeking financial advice can help you find the right balance based on your financial goals.
Another common mistake is trading too much. Since each trade can rake up fees, this can impact your overall portfolio performance. A separate study showed that the most active traders saw the worst returns, underperforming the U.S. stock market by 6.5% on average annually.
Finally, it’s important to carefully monitor your investments regularly as market conditions change, factoring in fees and inflation. This will let you know if your investments are on track, or if you need to adjust based on changing personal circumstances or other factors.
Controlling What You Can
To help avoid these common investing mistakes, investors can remember to stay rational and focus on their long-term goals. Building a solid portfolio often involves assessing the following factors:
- Financial goals
- Current income
- Spending habits
- Market environment
- Expected returns
With these factors in mind, investors can avoid focusing on short-term market swings, and control what they can. Making small investments over the long run can have powerful effects, with the potential to accumulate significant wealth simply by investing consistently over time.
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