Total alternative assets managed by the top 100 alternative investment managers reached $3.1 billion last year, according to a Towers Watson/Financial Times survey.

The largest block of alternative assets is in real estate funds (34 percent), followed by 23 percent in private equity funds, 20 percent in direct hedge funds, 10 percent in private equity funds of funds, 6 percent in funds of funds, and 4 percent each in direct commodities and direct infrastructure funds.

Pension funds have long realized the diversification advantages of alternatives, representing 36 percent of the top 100's assets. Wealth managers accounted for 19 percent, while insurance companies represnted 9 percent.

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