Whither the open-ended funds? – The Property Chronicle
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Whither the open-ended funds? Adrian Elwood discusses alchemy in finance and the illusion of liquidity

The Fund Manager

Close-up of stacks of pennies

Everyone knows that it is not possible to turn base metal into gold and yet there is often a degree of alchemy involved in finance. In the case of property, the alchemists would have us believe that if it were only possible to find the right structure it would be possible to turn an illiquid asset into a liquid one. Toby Courtauld will freely admit that, when Great Portland decided to sell the Facebook building at Rathbone Square, it took a year from initial decision to the receipt of the cash. Sometimes the process is faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes buildings can’t be sold at all. That is the reality and it is completely at odds with the promise of daily liquidity offered by the open-ended Property Authorised Investment Funds (PAIFs). Of course, the managers of the PAIFs are sophisticated professionals who know this only too well. They do their best to smooth the path by holding around 10% in cash and by using listed property shares as an additional buffer, which has the advantage of providing both genuine liquidity and comparable returns to property itself. The reason they do so is that they provide a very valuable service, offering tax efficient property exposure to a wide range of investors – unitised life insurance and pension funds and the new managed model portfolios which have become ubiquitous since the changes required by the FCA’s Retail Distribution Review came into effect in 2013 – all of whom require daily liquidity to facilitate the rebalancing of portfolios and all of whom would otherwise be unable to invest in real estate.

The Fund Manager

About Adrian Elwood

Adrian Elwood

Adrian Elwood has been researching and investing in the listed real estate sector for over thirty years. He was a member of the listed real estate team at Henderson Global Investors from 2004 to 2010. In September 2012 he established The Clerkenwell Matterhorn Fund, a Malta domiciled PIF with an absolute return mandate to invest in the sector.

Articles by Adrian Elwood

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