As mentioned yesterday, I am participating at the Opal Public Fund Summit in Newport. The conference is well attended and the panels/presenters have been very good. Yesterday’s sessions provided a heavy dose of product related conversation, including equities, fixed income, real estate, real assets, private equity, and private debt.
As I sat through each session I began to think about the types of questions that I’d want to ask if I were a plan sponsor for one of these large public fund entities. It is great that plan sponsors are in attendance, as they are tasked with a very important job in allocating plan assets with the goal to cobble together a combination that will achieve the return on asset assumption over some longer time frame. However, as I sat there I didn’t hear any of the points being made or questions being asked that would provide me with the information necessary to confidently remain in an asset class or allocate to a new one.
So as I thought about this some more, here are the questions that I’d want addressed:
- What are the long-term expectations for return, risk, and correlation for your asset class? Have those numbers deviated recently and why?
- Where are we in the investing cycle?
- How have flows been within your asset class? Are there any capacity issues to be concerned about?
- Anything new and exciting to report?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What should plan sponsors be asking that they haven’t been?
- How would a recession likely impact your asset class?
- Have you begun thinking about the 2020 presidential election and how it might impact your asset class?
- Are there investment opportunities outside the U.S. in your asset class? Do they have similar return, risk, and correlation expectations?
- Does the median manager outperform their benchmark after fees in your asset class? If not, shouldn’t a low-cost index fund be considered as an option?
I’m sure that I’m missing some important and relevant questions, but before making any asset allocation changes I’d want to be comfortable that I wasn’t buying yesterday’s news.