ERIC Number: ED559287
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
Alternatives Reality: What to Expect from Future Allocations
Sedlacek, Verne O.
For well more than a decade, the "endowment model" of investing has been synonymous with increasing allocations to alternative investment strategies, defined largely as hedge funds, private real estate, private equity and venture capital and other, generally less liquid or illiquid strategies compared to public markets. This trend towards alternatives continued unabated until the financial market crisis, paused and then continued the growth path, albeit at a slower rate. Today, the largest educational endowments allocate on average more than half of their portfolios to alternative investment strategies. More broadly, nonprofits of all types regardless of size have generally significant allocations to alternatives. Pension funds, while at much lower allocations, have likewise shifted assets toward alternatives in an effort to boost investment performance and dampen volatility. This begs the question: have investors been adequately compensated with higher risk adjusted returns compared to traditional strategies over this period of growth? And, perhaps more important, what should investors expect from their allocations to alternative strategies in the future? In this paper, the author opines that there is clear academic and empirical evidence that alternative investment strategies have contributed significantly to portfolio returns over the last 20 years. And he concludes that the fundamental principles that have contributed in the past to higher investment returns among alternative investment strategies, compared to traditional long-only equities and bonds, remain largely unchanged looking to the future. As such, investors that allocate capital to alternatives--with the pronounced caveat that investment talent matters--should continue to exhibit higher performance in comparison to those institutions that allocate solely to traditional assets. This paper provides both a retrospective of the last two decades of growth in alternatives to assess the extent to which alternatives have "worked" and offers a perspective on the role and relative importance of alternatives going forward.
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: Commonfund Institute