Aligning asset allocation and real estate investment: some lessons from the last cycle
Kennedy, P. and Baum, A., (2012) Aligning asset allocation and real estate investment: some lessons from the last cycle. Working Papers in Real Estate & Planning. 07/12. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp68.
Asset allocation is concerned with the development of multi--‐asset portfolio strategies that are likely to meet an investor’s objectives based on the interaction of expected returns, risk, correlation and implementation from a range of distinct asset classes or beta sources. Challenges associated with the discipline are often particularly significant in private markets. Specifically, composition differences between the ‘index’ or ‘benchmark’ universe and the investible universe mean that there can often be substantial and meaningful deviations between the investment characteristics implied in asset allocation decisions and those delivered by investment teams. For example, while allocation decisions are often based on relatively low--‐risk diversified real estate ‘equity’ exposure, implementation decisions frequently include exposure to higher risk forms of the asset class as well as investments in debt based instruments. These differences can have a meaningful impact on the contribution of the asset class to the overall portfolio and, therefore, lead to a potential misalignment between asset allocation decisions and implementation. Despite this, the key conclusion from this paper is not that real estate investors should become slaves to a narrowly defined mandate based on IPD / NCREIF or other forms of benchmark replication. The discussion suggests that such an approach would likely lead to the underutilization of real estate in multi--‐asset portfolio strategies. Instead, it is that to achieve asset allocation alignment, real estate exposure should be divided into multiple pools representing distinct forms of the asset class. In addition, the paper suggests that associated investment guidelines and processes should be collaborative and reflect the portfolio wide asset allocation objectives of each pool. Further, where appropriate they should specifically target potential for ‘additional’ beta or, more marginally, ‘alpha’.