The European asset management industry

The top 10 asset managers in Europe (by assets under management, or AUM):

The general picture

  • The European asset management industry has seen solid growth in recent years. When COVID-19 hit, stock markets suffered and growth was hampered, but by the end of the second quarter of 2020 growth had picked up again.
  • Financial assets are concentrated. Five countries cumulatively hold 76% of Europe’s AUM, with the UK alone owning 36.7%.
  • The European market for financial products is saturated. Aware that the investing population is likely to be financially savvy and have access to significant savings, product providers have produced a dizzying array of different funds and investment vehicles. This makes it difficult for products to stand out.

Source: European Fund and Asset Management Association, Asset Management in Europe: An overview of the asset management industry, 2021.

European asset management industries in a nutshell

Here are brief snapshots of the key asset management industries in Europe, offering a brief overview in addition to information on trends, distribution (how financial products make their way from product providers to end-investors) and challenges.

The UK

  • Overview
    • The largest asset management hub in Europe and the second-largest in the world, after the US.
    • 79% of assets are managed by institutional investors. Pension schemes are the largest institutional investors.
    • Assets are relatively unconcentrated, spread across a large number of firms.
    • The UK is a key centre for portfolio management on the behalf of global investors, with £3.7 trillion in AUM here.
  • Distribution
    • The distribution of retail funds in the UK remains heavily intermediated by parties like asset managers, in contrast to funds being directly sold by the product provider to the end-investor.
  • Trends
    • Global, rather than national or regional asset allocations, creating diversification benefits for funds.
    • Passive investment strategies remaining strong.
    • Interest in private markets from pension schemes and insurance companies.
    • Sustainable investment, which is mainly driven by institutional investors. However, retail investors are catching up.
  • Challenges
    • Adapting and maintaining a competitive advantage post-Brexit.
    • Embracing technological change.
    • Sustainability.


  • Overview
    • The fifth-largest asset management industry in Europe by AUM, after the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.
    • A saving culture, which is a compelling prospect for fund managers because it means citizens are more likely to have capital to invest.
    • Italian investors generally favour lower levels of risk, often lack financial education and tend to prefer safer financial instruments.
    • The market for mutual funds has grown in Italy.
  • Distribution
    • Distribution is dominated by banks.
    • However, there has been a loss of faith in local banks. More diversified offerings, technical competence and trust-based relationships with distributors have led to asset managers growing in prominence.
  • Trends
    • The introduction of tax-free PIRs (the Italian equivalent of ISAs) is attracting new money to the industry.
  • Challenges
    • MiFID II, a key piece of European regulation, is changing the dynamics of financial advice, creating a more personalised and ad-hoc advisory sector.
    • Forming strategic partnerships.


  • Overview
    • The most competitive financial centre in the world.
    • Flexible and pragmatic regulations paired with political stability mean that Switzerland occupies a unique position in the global financial services industry. 
    • Switzerland is a global leader in cross-border wealth management, commanding 25% of the worldwide market share in this field.
  • Distribution
    • Two major financial centres (Zurich and Geneva).
    • A highly competitive market, split between local fund providers and foreign competitors.
    • Bank-owned asset managers.
    • Synergies between different areas of the banking sector.
  • Trends
    • Switzerland is renowned for sophisticated investment products and strategies, and is a leader in alternative investments.
    • The nation is a pioneer in sustainable finance. 30% of Switzerland’s AUM is invested sustainably, whereas the global average is 15%.
    • High digitalisation is a priority.
  • Challenges
    • Acquiring new customers.
    • Competing against Asian rivals.


  • Overview
    • A strong pillar of the European asset management industry, with €3 trillion in AUM. AUM doubled between 2008 and 2017.
    • The four largest local players dominate the market, commanding 70% of market share.
    • Foreign and independent firms face tough competition from banking and insurance companies.
  • Distribution
    • Financial advisors play a key role, generally enjoying a profitable relationship with asset managers.
  • Trends
    • Investors are generally conservative, but have a growing interest in alternative investments.
    • Both institutional and retail investors are buying significant quantities of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). We offer more information on ETFs in ‘Types of asset managers’.
    • Thematic equity funds (funds that invest in stocks that have a similar ‘theme’ in common, i.e. biodiversity) growing in popularity.
    • Multi-asset funds becoming more popular, especially among advisors.
    • Sustainable, real asset (meaning tangible assets like real estate) and private markets investing.
    • Increasing institutional investment into funds.
  • Challenges
    • Corporate governance.