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Research - Whitepapers 

October 16, 2019

DCALTA-IPC Research Paper: Why Defined Contribution Plans Need Private Investments

We examine the impact of including private investment funds into diversified (e.g., balanced and target date fund) portfolios that otherwise hold only public stocks and bonds. Our analysis utilizes a comprehensive sample of 2,515 U.S. private equity funds to create simulated portfolios for 1987-2017 that invest part of their overall equity allocation in these funds.  We find that investing in private funds always increases average portfolio returns and reliably increases Sharpe ratios (return per unit of risk).  The results are robust when accounting for the inclusion of higher fees for the private portfolio and while randomly selecting a few funds from each vintage year (e.g., 10), suggesting that the results are feasible in practice for many investor types.    

May 05, 2019

Introducing Objective Benchmark-Based Attribution in Private Equity

In this article, we propose that in private equity, measurement of asset manager (general partner [GP) skill should begin with a repeatable benchmark-based performance attribution, which is then extended to explicitly quantify sources of alpha. Furthermore, in this article, we lay out a framework for repeatable measurement of performance attribution. Modern proxy benchmarks form a key component of this framework by enabling public market information to systematically inform private equity performance.

May 05, 2019

Quantifying Arbitrage Opportunities in DC Plans/Super Funds arising from Reporting Lag

Illiquid investments such as Private Equity, Real Assets and Real Estate are attractive for their reported high returns, but feature lagged quarterly reporting of contemporary market values.

This can be problematic in defined contribution plans where plan holders have the right to move their money between investment products with differing exposures to illiquid assets.

July 18, 2018

StepStone report: Achieving Liquidity in Private Markets for Defined Contribution Pension Plans

Some of the features enabling private markets to generate outsized returns are incompatible with how Defined Contribution ("DC") pension plans operate: for institutions functioning in a daily pricing environment, it can be difficult to invest in asset classes that only provide episodic liquidity. However, as private markets have evolved, new investment structures have emerged which have the potential to resolve this dilemma.

June 01, 2018

Putting Investment at the Heart of DC Pensions

Without long-term returns, schemes do not have an effective way to facilitate good retirement outcomes. And without long-term finance, the economy cannot produce those returns and contribute to wider prosperity.

January 06, 2017

Pantheon: Should DC Plan Sponsors Add Private Equity to Target-Date Funds?

This publication explores the impact on return potential of Target-Date Funds (TDFs) by changing the asset allocation mix to include assets with higher return potential without increasing the overall risk profile.

Partners Group: Adding Private Markets to DC Pension Portfolios

Taking a theoretical approach, we first examine the effects that an allocation to private markets can
have on the risk/return profile of a portfolio consisting of traditional asset classes (Section 1).
We then set out to examine the potential impact a relatively modest allocation to private markets
could have on an illustrative DC plan over a long-term time horizon (Section 2). Lastly, we touch on some of the structural reasons DC plans have historically been unable to invest in private market funds. We argue that most of these obstacles can be overcome today by private market investment managers, enabling DC beneficiaries the flexibility to access private market investments – an accretive portfolio allocation that DB beneficiaries have enjoyed in the past (Section 3). 

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DCALTA Founding Research Partners

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