What is the 'MSCI ACWI - All Country World Index'

The MSCI ACWI is a market capitalization weighted index designed to provide a broad measure of equity-market performance throughout the world. The MSCI ACWI is maintained by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), and is comprised of stocks from both developed and emerging markets.

ACWI is an abbreviation for All Country World Index.

BREAKING DOWN 'MSCI ACWI - All Country World Index'

There are a number of ways that investors can diversify their portfolio holdings. A portfolio manager or investor can purchase individual stocks that have a low or negative correlation with each other. But to fully reap the benefits of diversification, most investors look to ETFs, since purchasing numerous stocks from multiple sectors and countries could prove costly. An exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracks and replicates the performance of an index like the Dow Jones, S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, etc. An index that has the broadest selection of publicly traded stocks is the MSCI ACWI, short for ACWI.

The ACWI (All Country World Index) is an index that was created by MSCI Inc (Morgan Stanley Capital International). The ACWI represents the performance of small- to large-cap stocks from 23 developed and 24 emerging markets. The index covers approximately 85% of the global investable equity opportunity set, tracking 2,491 stocks of which the top 10 by market capitalization are Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Alphabet, Wells Fargo & Co., and Bank of America. The top 10 companies account for a total free float adjusted market cap of over $4 trillion, or about 10% of the total market cap of the index.

As of September 2017, the top 5 countries with the highest market cap by stock allocation are the US, Japan, UK, France, and China with 52.06%, 7.64%, 5.91%, 3.57%, and 3.42% of the total index market cap, respectively. The other 42 countries with stocks in the MSCI ACWI make up 27.4% of the market cap.

By global sector, the weighting is as follows:





Information Technology


Consumer Discretionary






Consumer Staples






Telecommunication Services


Real Estate




Total Weight



The annual performance of the index since 2005 is presented in the table below:


ACWI Annual Performance (%)
























Institutional investors, such as pension funds and hedge funds, use the MSCI ACWI as a benchmark to measure the performance of their portfolios. A portfolio manager may compare his holdings to the ACWI to determine how well diversified his portfolio is. Individual investors may also use ACWI as a benchmark to compare which funds have the best risk-adjusted returns.

The easiest way for investors to gain exposure to the ACWI is through ETFs. A number of ETFs tracks the MSCI ACWI, including the iShares MSCI ACWI ETF (ACWI) which tracks the results of the ACWI and provides access to the global markets through its single offering. Investors who are looking to diversify past their national borders and who are seeking long-term growth in their portfolios may opt for this ETF. The ETF consists of 1,353 holdings, as of October 25, 2017, with net assets of almost $8 billion. Two other ETFs that seek to closely match the returns and performance of the ACWI are the iShares MSCI ACWI ex-US Index Fund (ACWX) and the SPDR MSCI ACWI ex-US ETF (CWI).

  1. MSCI Inc

    MSCI Inc is an investment research firm that provides indices, ...
  2. MSCI Emerging Markets Index

    The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was created by Morgan Stanley ...
  3. MSCI BRIC Index

    The MSCI BRIC Index is an index measuring the equity market performance ...
  4. Stock Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)

    A stock exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a security that tracks ...
  5. International Investing

    International investing is an investing strategy that involves ...
  6. Japan ETF

    A Japan ETF is a type of exchange-traded fund that invests in ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    A-Shares Finally Earn MSCI Promotion

    China A-shares earned the coveted promotion to be included in MSCI's international benchmark.
  2. Investing

    EWG: iShares MSCI Germany ETF

    Learn about iShares MSCI Germany, which is a nondiversified exchange traded fund that invests principally in large-cap German companies.
  3. Investing

    4 Funds to Short the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EUM, EEV)

    Discover several strategies to short The MSCI Emerging Markets Index using these four ETFs.
  4. Investing

    EWU: iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF

    Understand how the iShares MSCI United Kingdom exchange-traded fund is managed, how it tracks its benchmark and for whom it is most suitable.
  5. Investing

    The 5 Largest Japan ETFs (EWJ, DXJ)

    Discover several of the largest Japan ETFs, as measured by assets under management, and learn about the investment exposure each provides.
  6. Investing

    Why These Country ETFs Are Soaring

    These country ETFs are soaring, but the good news is probably already priced in.
  7. Investing

    Top Asia-Pacific ETFs

    A look at some of the popular exchange traded funds providing access to the Asia-Pacific region.
  8. Investing

    Tapping International Markets With Smart Beta ETFs

    Smart beta is earning its place in international equity strategies and investors should take note.
  9. Investing

    The 2018 ETF World Cup

    The 2018 FIFA World Cup has kicked off in Russia. Discover which country ETFs are scoring goals.
  10. Investing

    EWW: Mexico Capped ETF Performance Case Study

    Explore the returns of the iShares MSCI Mexico Capped ETF since 2012, including the seasonal patterns that have generated gains and losses for the fund.
  1. Should I invest in ETFs or index funds?

    Learn the advantages to investing in exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, and index funds, and decide whether to include them ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center