IJ’s “Asset Owners in Japan" column regularly features conversations with corporate pension fund managers, however, people may still be curious about their identities and backgrounds. IJ’s sister site, AL-IN Web, surveyed current managers of defined benefit pension funds to shed light on who they are, what they do, and what attributes they share. The survey was conducted online from March 2 to April 2, 2021. N=126.
Translated from an article originally posted on AL-IN Web on April 21, 2021.

Among the corporate pension funds surveyed, nearly 80% are fund-type, 15% are contract-type, and the remainder are non-corporate benefit organizations, such as mutual aid associations for public service personnel. 

Respondents are located throughout Japan, however 44% are in Tokyo.  

When categorized by asset scale, fund-types vary in size from less than JPY 10 billion to over JPY 100 billion, whereas 63% of contract-types are less than JPY 10 billion.  Non corporate pension funds were sharply divided by size, with 43% under JPY 10 billion and 57% over JPY 100 billion.

Fewer personnel and greater concentration among fund-type funds

At most pension funds, asset management is performed by one or two individuals, or 2.35 on average.  Contract-type funds generally employ more managers than fund-type do.

Number of asset management personnel

Most personnel designated as asset managers perform additional work in other areas.  More than 80% of contract-type managers report demoting “less than a quarter” of their time and energy to asset management.  Contract-type funds employ more asset managers but they are more likely to work concurrently with other assignments than fund-types.  The other duties are mainly general affairs, accounting, and HR at contract-type funds, and finance and HR at fund-type funds.

Percentage of personal work resource devoted to asset management

Experience in asset management

Veteran managers, with more than 10 years of experience, made up 40% of respondents.  Sixty-four percent of those in their 60s and older have more than 10 years of experience, and more than 70% of young and mid-career managers in their 30s and 40s have more than 5 years of experience.  At contract-type funds, where managers tend to be transferred often, more than half have less than 5 years of experience.

Experience in asset management (in years)


Lastly, we asked managers to identify their primary medium for compiling daily financial information.  Print media (56%) slightly outperformed web media (44%).  When they use web to gather information, 90% use PCs, largely ignoring mobile phones and tablets.