Asset allocation, cross-class correlation and the structure of property returns
Lee, S. and Lizieri, C., (1999) Asset allocation, cross-class correlation and the structure of property returns. Working Papers in Land Management & Development. 07/99. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp17.
Practical applications of portfolio optimisation tend to proceed on a “top down” basis where funds are allocated first at asset class level (between, say, bonds, cash, equities and real estate) and then, progressively, at sub-class level (within property to sectors, office, retail, industrial for example). While there are organisational benefits from such an approach, it can potentially lead to sub-optimal allocations when compared to a “global” or “side-by-side” optimisation. This will occur where there are correlations between sub-classes across the asset divide that are masked in aggregation – between, for instance, City offices and the performance of financial services stocks. This paper explores such sub-class linkages using UK monthly stock and property data. Exploratory analysis using clustering procedures and factor analysis suggests that property performance and equity performance are distinctive: there is little persuasive evidence of contemporaneous or lagged sub-class linkages. Formal tests of the equivalence of optimised portfolios using top-down and global approaches failed to demonstrate significant differences, whether or not allocations were constrained. While the results may be a function of measurement of market returns, it is those returns that are used to assess fund performance. Accordingly, the treatment of real estate as a distinct asset class with diversification potential seems justified.