Across public and private defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) plans, total assets grew 8% from $17.6 trillion in 2014 to $19.1 trillion in 2016, according to data from The Federal Reserve.
Total financial assets in both public and private DB pension plans were $12.4 billion in 2016, up 8% from $11.5 trillion in 2014 Total financial assets in DC plans were $6.7 trillion in 2016, up 10% from $6.1 trillion in 2014.
Private DB pension plan assets in 2016 were $3.3 trillion, up 3% from $3.2 trillion in 2014. Private DC plan assets in 2016 were $5.7 trillion, up 9.6% from $5.2 trillion in 2014.
In terms of pension funds’ biggest asset class holding in 2016, the largest was corporate equities, $4.8 trillion, followed by debt securities and mutual funds, at $3.9 trillion for both asset classes. Pension funds’ fourth biggest holding in 2016 was Treasury securities, at $2.3 trillion.
Federal government DB plan assets were $3.4 trillion, while federal government DC plan assets in 2015 were much less, at $466 billion. State and local DB plan assets in 2016 were $5.6 trillion, and state and local DC plan assets were $490 billion.
In terms of flows by asset class, private and public DB plans’ biggest purchase in 2016 were debt securities, coming in at $190 billion. This was followed by Treasury securities ($120 billion) and corporate and foreign bonds ($61 billion).
For private DC plans, the most inflows in 2016 were to mutual funds ($24 billion), followed by debt securities ($22 billion) and corporate and foreign bonds ($12 billion). For federal government DC plans, their biggest purchases in 2016 were debt and Treasury securities (both at $16 billion) and assets in the Thrift Savings Plan ($12 billion). The biggest purchases of state and local DC plans in 2016 were: unallocated insurance contracts ($8 billion) and miscellaneous assets ($7 billion).