A EUR 46 billion fund just found cracks in alternative assets

Alternative assets such as infrastructure and real estate have been a popular way for Nordic pension funds to pump up returns. But the latest crisis just exposed how risky many corners of the asset class are, when liquidity suddenly dries up.

Mikko Mursula, CIO, Ilmarinen. | Photo: PR / Ilmarinen

As the chief investment officer of Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Co., Mikko Mursula oversees about EUR 46 billion from his office in Helsinki. He says that “one of the key lessons” he just learned from the turmoil triggered by Covid-19 is “the importance of liquidity.”

The panic that hit markets in March, when much of the global economy was shuttered to fight Covid-19, revealed that many institutional investors were dangerously short on liquidity after stocking up on alternative assets. And the returns they were getting weren’t compensating them for the risk.

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