GLOBAL – New research from consulting firm Watson Wyatt had found that specialist asset managers have grown strongly - with UK firms seeing growth of up to 96%.

The firm also found, in its annual ranking of global asset managers, that firms that focus on indexing assets have also grown.

“A key finding from this year’s ranking is the growth of the specialist manager, particularly in the UK, where the top specialist active equity houses saw growth between 80% and 96%,” Watson said in a statement. “In the US, the top specialist managers and boutiques also experienced substantial increases in assets under management.”

“Three years of falling markets forced many managers to cut costs and streamline their businesses, but market conditions during 2003 meant a reversal of fortunes for many asset managers, particularly at specialist houses,” said Nick Watts, head of European investment consulting at Watson Wyatt.

Watson said other winners were the leading ‘indexers’, which saw the total value of their assets rise by 38%. It said this was “driven in part by increasing inflows to ‘core passive’ but also by increasing interest in their enhanced indexation products”.

The firm found that assets managed by the 500 largest asset managers in the world increased by 22% to a total of 43.3 trillion dollars (63.5 trillion euros) during 2003.

There were two changes to the top 20 listing, Crédit Agricole and Northern Trust replacing Prudential Financial and Nippon Life Insurance.

The largest manager was UBS with 1.78 trillion dollars under management, with Allianz second at 1.3 trillion dollars and Fidelity in third slot at 1.14 trillion dollars.

Last month IPE published its 2004 ranking of the Top 400 asset managers in the European market, which placed Allianz, Fidelity and State Street Global Advisors in the top three places.