Confessions of a Lapsed Allocator



Public pension investment professionals spend too much time and effort fighting to do their jobs. Internal bureaucracy probably took up 25 percent of the total work hours of my small team. 

And it’s not about being lazy or unwilling to work hard. Consider, for example, an in-demand fund that had been in process for some time and finally created capacity — but required one month for work to be finished up before closing. Every week needed for internal paperwork, presentations, and hoop-jumping, well, that meant one less week of actual due diligence and investment debate. Or maybe we would have just passed on the manager, which is also suboptimal as it’s often the best-performing managers that require the most flexible processes.

This is counterproductive. And that’s not just an opinion. Research shows that the impact of due diligence in alternatives is meaningful for returns. Spending more hours doing actual research before making a decision results in higher returns, and the effect is more pronounced the greater the dispersion of returns. The act of getting that decision approved shouldn’t consume so much of a limited staff’s time. 

Author(s): Christopher Schelling

Publication Date: 5 May 2020

Publication Site: Institutional Investor