This course examines key themes and issues related to investing in alternative assets from the perspective of major asset owners, such as defined benefit pension plans. The course will focus on the investment process and benefits of applying alternative investments, specifically hedge funds and fund-of-funds, to traditional portfolios. The course will also address the role of real estate, timber, venture capital, private equity, hard assets, infrastructure assets and commodities within traditional portfolios.
The goals of this course are for participants to:
• Understand the objectives and constraints of institutional investors, specifically corporate and public pension plans;
• Appreciate the benefits, and potential drawbacks, of including alternative assets within the context of large institutional portfolios;
• Gain insight into the analysis and selection of hedge funds, as well as the construction of hedge fund of fund portfolios;
• Develop an awareness of analysis, selection, and management of alternative asset portfolios including private equity, commodities, currencies, etc.
This course will make significant use of practical, real-world examples. Moreover, the professors expect to engage CIOs of pension plans, as well as major hedge fund managers (such as David Einhorn of Greenlight, Scott Bessent of Soros, and others) to participate in the course as guest lecturers.
Students who are looking to pursue careers in any traditional or alternative asset class will benefit from this course. Further, students interested in careers at corporate or public pension plans, fund of funds, consultants or research providers should benefit from this course.
Karl Mergenthaler was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2013 to 2016.
Michael Weinberg was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2013 to 2016.