Abstract - Does Active Management Add Any Value?

The question as to whether active management adds any value above that of the funds investment policy is one of continual interest to investors. In order to investigate this issue in the UK real estate market we examine a number of related questions. First, how much return variability is explained by investment policy? Second, how similar are the policies across funds? Third, how much of a fund’s return is determined by investment policy? Fourth, how was this added value achieved? Finally, how often does a fund manager need to add value to be successful? 

Using data for 19 real estate funds we find that investment policy explains less than half of the variability in returns over time, nothing of the variation across funds and that more than 100% of a level of return is attributed to investment policy. The results also show UK real estate fund focus exclusively on trying to pick winners to add value and that in pursuit of active return fund mangers incur high tracking error risk. Consequently, successful active management is very difficult to achieve, as it requires the managers to produce excess returns almost 70% of the time. In addition, the results are dependent on the benchmark used to represent the investment policy of the fund. Nonetheless, active management can indeed add value to a real estate funds performance. This is the good news. The bad news is adding value is much more difficult to achieve than is generally accepted.

Stephen Lee
University of Reading (UK)
16.Nov 2004

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