- December 2012: Vol. 24 No. 11

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Trust Me, I’m Your Consultant: Conflicts Arise over the Inherent Conflicts of Interest Among Firms that Both Advise and Manage Funds

by Steve Bergsman

Back in 1980, the company now known as Russell Investments, a pioneer investment consulting firm, began managing money directly for institutions rather than simply providing advice. For the larger consulting firms this model has become the norm, so one finds Wilshire Associates promoting itself as a global advisory company as well as a fund manager. The same holds true at Mercer, and even Callan Associates boasts the Callan GlidePath Funds, or a series of diversified investment funds known as “target maturity” funds.

Most of these funds are not necessarily in the real estate kingdom and, indeed, consultants from these funds who work the property markets don’t consider them as part of their world.

To be clear, there are several kinds of consulting firms. The first, the most “pure” in the sense of conflicts of interest, provides only nondiscretionary, ostensibly conflict-free a

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