Alternative investments made up the biggest part and were
the best-performing asset class for a typical family office portfolio in 2018,
according to a new survey from research firm Peltz International.
The survey of 21 family offices found that alternative
investments made up more than 52% of family office portfolios, compared to 22%
for equities and 15% for fixed income. This is up from the firm’s last survey
in 2016, which found that alternatives made up 41.3% of family office
portfolios at the time.
The asset class also returned 10.2% during 2018, while
the overall family portfolio generated a 7.9% average return. After
alternatives, fixed income-developing countries provided the second-highest
average return at 8.5%, while equities-developing countries was the only category
with a negative return in 2018, losing 6%.
Within alternatives, private equity-direct generated the
highest average return in 2018 at 21.4%, followed by private debt at 10.5%;
private equity funds at 10.1%; and hedge funds at 3%. Real estate investment
trusts was the only category with a negative average return, losing 2.0% for
“In comparing the 2018 survey with our 2016
survey, the average family office surveyed has fewer employees–13 in 2018
compared with 17 in 2016,” said Lois Peltz, author of the report. “There has
been an increase in staff in the philanthropy function while there has been a
decrease in staff involved with investment activities. However, investment
staff remains the largest category.”
The survey also found that more than half of the family
offices plan to increase allocations to alternatives in 2019, while one-third
said they will increase their allocation to cash, with another one-third
planning to boost exposure to equities-developing country.
Among those planning to increase their exposure to
alternatives, 29% say they will increase their allocation to real estate direct
investments, while the same percentage said they plan to boost allocations to
private equity funds. Hedge funds currently account for the largest percentage
of alternatives for family portfolios at 28%, followed by real estate direct
investments at 26%, and private equity funds at 20% of alternatives.
Cryptocurrencies represented only 0.5% of the portfolios, while cannabis
investments weren’t cited by any of the surveyed families.
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