4400 registered foals, and only 16 or 18 of them make it to the Derby ― John Sosby, Claiborne Farm

What a year.  For the twelve months ending December 31st, 2023, total outsourced AUM managed by the one-hundred-two firms in our latest OCIO Directory reached a record $4.1 trillion dollars thanks to $686 billion in new business, a whopping twenty percent increase.

This chart shows which OCIOs gained the most AUM for the year. We grouped the firms by size, numbers per group, and growth in dollars and percentage.

OCIO firms
by AUM



% increase

$ increase

% of 

Over $100bn






$50 – $100bn






$20 – $50bn






$10 – $20bn






$5 – $10bn






$1 – $5bn






Under $1bn









* See complete company listings by group in the appendix below

Winner takes all

Here’s what caught our attention.  Less than a quarter of the firms on our list manage most of the money, about $3.4tn, while the other seventy-nine outsourcers divvied up the remaining $681bn.  The twelve largest OCIOs alone control over $2.6tn or sixty-four percent of the outsourced total.

As for new business in 2023?  Almost three-quarters of last year’s gain accrued to these twelve largest providers, thirteen percent went to the next eleven, and those dogged seventy-nine fought for the remaining twelve percent, roughly $83bn.

The Twelve
$420,000,000,000 – Mercer
$329,400,000,000 – Goldman Sachs
$319,000,000,000 – BlackRock
$243,200,000,000 – Russell
$193,500,000,000 – SEIC
$182,100,000,000 – MS Graystone
$169,800,000,000 – CAPTRUST
$164,200,000,000 – J.P. Morgan
$163,000,000,000 – WTW
$157,000,000,000 – State Street
$155,000,000,000 – AON
$121,000,000,000 – Wilshire

As in past years, the largest source of new OCIO mandates in dollar terms came from corporate pensions.

For most OCIOs, however, the corporate defined-benefit world is a land apart and out of reach, actuarial, regulated, and liability driven, with big-ticket AUM on offer.  According to the latest Milliman corporate pension report, the top 100 US DB plans held about $1.32 trillion in assets in 2023.

By the way, only four of these plans outsourced their DB obligations during the year, so there are still a few mandates to be had.

Many firms, many flavors

Each OCIO has its own culture, investment style, and biases.  Some firms focus on indexing and liquid markets, others on alternatives, still others on ESG.  Some customize portfolios, others don’t.

But biases affect risk, allocations, and outcomes.  Alternatives including venture capital and private equity have outperformed in the past and may do so again.

A 2022 University of Chicago paper concludes that “Venture capital performance remains remarkably persistent across funds raised by the same general partner.  In contrast, buyout funds’ performance persistence becomes noticeably weaker over time.”

However, there’s a trade-off in liquidity and transparency.  If it’s liquidity you want, check the fine print for lockups, redemptions, gates, and fees.

“The top LBO funds invest money quickly, but the liquidation of portfolio companies is a long process, requiring more than 12 years from the vintage year,” according to Jeffrey Hooke, senior lecturer, Johns Hopkins University.

Before choosing an OCIO, know which way they lean.

Failure to communicate

Here’s one last point to keep in mind.  “Lack of adequate communication – particularly regarding performance – is the single biggest challenge and the most common source of dissatisfaction within OCIO relationships.”  FundFire.

When we speak with family heads and board members who are considering a change in OCIO providers they usually cite poor performance.  But when we dig deeper, we find it’s rarely about returns, but about a change in their client service representative and frustration with the current dialogue.

Relationships are ruptured.  Communication goes awry.  Clients are unhappy.  Good news and bad, the messenger conveys the message.  Whether the goal is client retention or a new business win, it usually comes down to delivery.

Final thoughts

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  The asset management business is hyper-competitive, hard to differentiate, and expensive to scale.  We have yet to see an independent Outsourced Chief Investment Officer firm reach $100 Billion AUM through organic growth.  Most of those on our list will never reach $20 Billion.

With the amount of talent and resources available on Wall Street, the chances of building top-ranked, enduring investment teams capable of vaulting over the competition are slim to none without superior technology, blockbuster products, or a relentless M&A machine.

If the goal is to deliver exceptional performance, service and solutions and be there for the client twenty years from now, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  Talk to your competitors.  Some might make fine partners.

Our spring 2024 OCIO Directory

Our spring 2024 Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) update features one-hundred-two discretionary providers with pertinent particulars on each.  We include names, numbers, emails, titles, and at least one client service professional ready to take your call.

Our goal is to help families and institutions locate, review, and connect with full-service discretionary outsource investment managers.  These firms care deeply about their customers.  Our directory makes it easy for prospective clients to reach them.

(download OCIO Directory as PDF)

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