Real Assets Adviser

November 1, 2017: Vol. 4, Number 11

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From the Current Issue

Water, Water Everywhere: But where are the investment opportunities?

The stark reminders came, ironically, in late August after Houston was flooded by up to 40 inches of rain dumped by Hurricane Harvey. So what was Houston short of, after that deluge? A case of bottled water retailed for $99 in some locations, and even one Best Buy store, evidently oblivious to PR, charged $42.96 for a 24-pack of bottled water. Water the world has, literally oceans of it. Fresh H20 and drinking water? That is another story. As global human populations increase, the demand for clean water rises as well, even as limited fresh-water resources become increasingly despoiled.

No More Soft Targets: 2017 hurricane season emphasizes the need for resilient properties

In the past several weeks, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast were hit by successive storms that brought staggering destruction. In the aftermaths of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate, the watchword is resilience. Storms of this magnitude — Harvey brought more than 50 inches of rain to parts of Houston, while Irma saw wind speeds of 180 miles per hour — could become more common as Earth’s climate changes, which means real estate investors need to be prepared to handle such events.

In Gold We Trust: Why cryptocurrencies are unlikely to usurp the role of gold

A highlight of 2017 financial markets has been the explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies. The price performance of Bitcoin and its crypto brethren has been nothing short of spectacular. Recently, Bitcoin vaulted 445 percent from its March 25 close of $960 to an intraday high of $5,234 on Oct. 12. During the same span, the market capitalization of the digital currency universe increased more than 600 percent, from $23 billion to $162 billion. By comparison, the coincident performance of gold bullion has been entirely pedestrian, rising some 4.0 percent. Needless to say, these widely divergent performances have fostered speculation that Bitcoin has usurped gold’s role as a “store of value.”

The RIA Tech Stack: There are several pillars required to properly outfit the modern wealth advisory firm

The financial services market is evolving. Client demographics are changing; millennials — primed to inherit an immense sum in liquid assets from their parents’ generation — are quickly gaining investment power and bringing with them vastly different needs and preferences. And with stagnant interest rates and an underperforming IPO market, advisers are suddenly presented with a low-yield investment environment.

The Wait for a Deal: With federal infrastructure policy on hold, state and local P3s are in a bind

Investors have been anticipating the Trump administration’s big push for infrastructure investments in the United States, but their hopes have not been met with action because of the all too familiar Washington gridlock. This has put a lot of government agencies at the state and local levels — as well as the private investment managers hoping to work with them — in a tough spot. They have plenty of projects in need of financing and funding and plenty of design and build firms and investment capital at the ready, but the uncertainty about whether a $1 trillion federal-level infrastructure program will become law has left them waiting to see if they can get a better deal than what is being offered at the moment. If a federal-level infrastructure program might come with grants, loans and subsidies for state and local projects, it makes sense to wait and see.

From Beirut to the Big Apple: Journeyman investment executive Alain Karaoglan envisions turning $517 billion Voya Financial into “America’s retirement company”

One could not have faulted Alain Karaoglan for wondering during his early years if he and his family had been dealt a bad karmic hand (assuming he believed in such things). Born in Aleppo, Syria, right about the time the notorious and brutal dictator Hafez al-Assad took control of the country, Karaoglan’s parents fled for Beirut, Lebanon, which was considered the Paris of the Middle East at the time. But brutality followed them when a horrific civil war erupted there in 1975. The Karaoglans were on the move again, this time to France in search of peace and new opportunities.

How to Invest in Renewables

Renewable energy became mainstream in 2016. The perceptions that renewable energy is easily outcompeted by conventional fossil fuels, burdened by technological risk and uncertainty, or simply an environmental luxury for the wealthy have been thoroughly debunked. Do not let these myths cloud your judgment, as renewable energy is now a considerable presence within the energy market. This is not a hypothetical or some potential future, but the ground truth reality in today’s market, which many investors and industry experts project will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Endowment Model Takes Its Lumps: It has been a rough year or two, but proponents remind detractors that the model is built for long-term investment strategies

Back in 1985, the investment portfolio of Yale University endowment was easy to understand with about 90 percent of the endowment’s assets in a combination of U.S. equities, foreign equities and bonds. In July 2016 (most endowments close out their fiscal year at the end of June), Yale endowments were a grand mix: U.S. equity, about 5 percent; bonds, 8 percent; foreign equity, 10 percent to 15 percent; and everything else in some version of private equity, natural resources, hedge funds and real estate.

Cloudy with a Chance of Windfall: Major cloud providers anticipate tripling their infrastructure by 2020, which is good news for the data center real estate sector

Data needs a home. It can live in a small back room of a big office; it can live in servers stacked in cabinets arranged in hundreds of rows in huge warehouses. A data center is a hardware store full of servers, storage devices and network connections. “On a non-weighted percentage, the overwhelming majority of data centers are tiny closets and rooms with a handful of devices,” says Todd Smith, chief technology officer at Transwestern Data Center Solutions. “But on a weighted basis, IT infrastructure has been moving at an accelerated pace to large, third party–managed facilities.”

Ocean Bounty: Ahoy seafaring investors! Floating nuclear plants, aquatic agriculture and waterborne cities are setting sail

One of the first lessons we learn in school is that two-thirds of the earth’s surface is submerged in ocean water. It is one of the most memorable facts from our primary education. Many of us must have thought what a waste it was that so much of the planet was basically unusable. For the longest time, the oceans were dangerous expanses that we sought to circumnavigate for exploration and, eventually, global trade.

The Young and the Restless: Nine tips for attracting and retaining young talent

Most advisers look to hire when they are feeling overwhelmed by a stress-filled workload. In reality, however, the best time to add team members lies in the sweet spot between “I’m just about at capacity” and “I want to grow.” Does this describe where you are right now? If so, you should begin thinking about your firm’s most pressing personnel needs. Several positions we’ve seen trending in the past year have involved young, bright professionals taking the lead on technology, paraplanning, client education and marketing. Check out this list of tips for onboarding the next generation.

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