- December 1, 2019: Vol. 31, Number 11

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Finding its place: What opportunities exist for real estate investment in defined contribution retirement plans?

by Loretta Clodfelter

For defined benefit investors, the advantages of investing in private real estate are undeniable: diversification, current income, inflation protection, uncorrelated returns. But, historically, defined contribution plans have not offered the same opportunity to invest in private real estate.

Some of the difference is an artifact of history. Defined contribution plans were initially perceived as supplemental to defined benefit plans, and so they did not need to be comprehensive. But as defined benefit plans have been frozen or shuttered, the defined contribution plan has played a larger and more important role in retirement savings. The question now is: Can defined contribution plans offer the type of investment — and potential risk-adjusted returns — upon which defined benefit plans have long relied?

“Really, the only way to access real estate [in defined contribution plans] for a long time was through REITs,” says Jimmy Veneruso, senior vice president and defi

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