The interest among institutional investors in direct and indirect real estate investing in Switzerland and abroad has continued unabated for years. The concomitant structuring and management of real estate investments and the associated selection, management and control of an internal and/or external asset manager are becoming more and more important. That said, investment decisions are increasingly influenced by current challenges such as digitisation, an ongoing asset crisis and (geo)political changes.
This was the premise underlying this year's Real Estate Investment and Asset Management conference, which takes place every May at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in cooperation with the Swiss Pension Fund Association. The 140-plus professionals attending discussed current and future management challenges and trends in direct and indirect real estate investing.
The conference is based on the annual empirical survey of institutional investors in Switzerland and the handbook presented at the conference. "The periodic surveys allow us to come up with focused, critical comparisons of trends in the real estate sector and to derive useful recommendations for action in a structured manner," says the head of the study, Prof Dr Michael Trübestein.
The study starts by indicating that the pension funds examined are "home-biased": they want in particular to invest in real estate in the domestic market and to maintain this investment policy going forward. The current organisational structures in real estate asset management are manifold: the study discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the various organisational structures, and groups the pension funds under scrutiny into three clusters. According to the findings of the study, investors also prefer Switzerland for indirect investments: the focus is primarily on investments in investment foundations, although listed real estate companies are also important. Not surprisingly, qualitative criteria and costs continue to play a decisive role in the selection of an external manager for indirect investments. The investors surveyed are showing growing interest in investing in "infrastructures". Meanwhile, political and legal risks are defined as clear investment barriers.
The well-researched findings serve once more to underscore the quality of the teaching and research carried out at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. At the same time, there is a very high demand for specialists and managers in the rapidly developing Swiss real estate sector. "We have specifically addressed this issue with the Master of Science in Real Estate and offer future specialists and managers an ideal training programme," continues Trübestein. The work-study MScRE programme is internationally recognised, with graduates gaining the highest internationally recognised degree in the real estate sector. Since this high-quality and at the same time highly practical programme is only available at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, it became almost fully subscribed very quickly, with few places remaining. It is possible to apply or obtain further information regarding the course starting in September 2017 here.