Bridge over ocean
1 September 1985 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 41, Issue 5

The Pension Sponsor’s View of Asset Allocation

  1. Robert D. Arnott

Responses to a questionnaire asking pension plan sponsors their views on aspects of pension fund management reveal much diversity of opinion. The most intriguing finding is that equity and bond management absorb the greatest proportion of sponsor expenses, yet are viewed as only modest avenues for adding value. By contrast, both long-term and strategic (short-term) asset allocation are deemed as being potentially excellent avenues for adding value yet receive very low commitments from sponsors. Sponsors do not pay the most for those aspects they perceive as offering the greatest opportunity for adding value.

Another interesting finding is that sponsors ascribe greatest importance to those aspects of pension plan management that are seen as having the greatest impact on performance, rather than on those aspects perceived as likely avenues for enhancing performance. The distinction is subtle but significant. Equity manager selection is viewed as having considerable impact on performance, for example, but the opportunity to add value through effective equity management is viewed as less significant. It may be that equity markets are viewed as too efficient to offer significant opportunities to add value, even though their impact on pension plan performance can be considerable.

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