FinGeo Virtual Series - The Financial Industry Sets Sights on Institutional Investors: A Relational Approach to Property Investment Outsourcing in Brazil

11 October 2022 to 11 October 2022
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Over the past few decades, pension funds have emerged as major players in global financial markets as the reserves they manage have grown steadily. In this context, trustees are confronted with acute dilemmas regarding how best to generate investment returns for beneficiaries. This involves crucial decisions regarding the diversification of investment portfolios, as well as decisions on whether, when, and to whom to outsource investment functions and tasks. The literature in economic geography has frequently treated outsourcing decisions as taken by the asset-owners based on criteria such as costs of coordination, availability of information regarding market segments, governance structure, (lack of) internal expertise, amount of assets under management, etc. Focusing on the outsourcing of property investment by Brazil’s largest pension funds and drawing on a relational approach, this paper investigates the actions taken by the REIT industry to attract and retain pension fund money into their investment vehicles. It is claimed that REIT managers have acted on three dimensions to capture pension fund money: 1) by influencing the regulatory framework affecting pension funds; 2) by building networks of trust with pension fund managers and trustees; 3) by adapting internal procedures to the expectations and needs of institutional investors. Our results show that a focus on the power of financial market actors to reshape relational networks to their benefit provides a different perspective on the reasons pension funds outsource investment management, thus raising key theoretical and policy issues.


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