Asset managers are responsible for managing assets for pensions, insurance and other long-term savings products. With over £5trn of assets under management in the UK, asset management makes up a large part of the capital markets. [1]  Asset managers also generate significant net exports for the UK, as some £2.2trn of these assets are managed for overseas investors. [2]

Much of the academic and public debate about asset management has focused on the size of the industry, in terms of gross value added or number of employees, or its performance relative to the market average.[3] There has been less focus on the role that asset management plays in channelling new capital to public and private companies. It is the connection between this underlying investment and the services to clients that makes the asset management industry an important intermediary in the financial system, with implications for both growth within the economy and returns to millions of savers and investors. There is therefore a need for a better understanding of the role that asset
management plays in primary markets.
 
The Investment Association (IA) commissioned Oxera to assess the contribution of asset management services to the UK economy. In particular, Oxera was asked to consider how the activities of professional asset managers contribute both to the efficient allocation of capital and to the efficient pooling of savings on behalf of savers and investors.
 
Supported by quantitative and qualitative findings, this study explores the role of asset managers through the savings and investment value chain, as summarised in the figure below.

Notes

[1] Total assets under management in the UK grew from just over £2trn in 2003 to some £5.5trn at the end of 2014, which is over three times UK GDP. See The Investment Association (2015), ‘Asset Management in the UK 2014-2015: The Investment Association Annual Survey’, September.
[2] The asset management sector contributes a net £5.2bn to the UK’s trade balance.
[3] For example, compared with a market index, which represents a frictionless benchmark without any transaction costs.