After two years of virtual conferences and Zoom calls, REITs and their investors are meeting in person once again. Importantly, Nareit’s REITweek: 2022 Investor Conference returns as an in-person event this June in New York, and with it, the ability for attendees to gain a larger picture of our industry through the 100-plus company presentations, the many connections that are made, and the personal interactions that occur. In addition, the REIT Investor Relations Symposium, hosted by Nareit and the New York Stock Exchange the day prior to the REITweek Conference, will also be back in person.
One theme that’s sure to be of interest to those attending both events, as well as to the broader investment community, is the growing role that REIT assets are playing in U.S. retirement plans. Our feature story, Stepping Up, explores that trend. It notes that a recent Pensions & Investments survey found that allocations to REITs in U.S. retirement plans grew 22% in the year ended Sept. 30, 2021, growing faster than private real estate assets, which grew 13%. This is not a one-time blip; the survey shows that REIT assets are up more than 47% over the past five years, while private real estate assets have grown by 40.5%.
As Nareit’s EVP for Research and Investor Outreach John Worth points out in the article, pension plans are opting to maintain and grow REIT allocations as an important part of their portfolio. The managers of these plans cite the reasons for this include the view that listed real estate acts as a good hedge against inflation, and REITs provide access to new growth sectors of the economy.
While the historically strong investment attributes of REITs are always front and center, as we gather again, it is also a good opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our peers and the strides they are taking to ensure a more equitable and diverse industry. I encourage you to read our feature story that highlights how AvalonBay Communities, Equinix, Iron Mountain, and Kimco Realty—recently named to the Human Rights Campaign 2022 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality—are taking bold steps to foster inclusiveness.
Finally, one of the hallmarks of the REIT industry is the strong management teams that have navigated changing market conditions and made difficult strategic decisions to ensure future success. One such team is at Duke Realty, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. This issue features an interview with Duke Realty President and CEO Jim Connor, who discusses the REIT’s evolution from a diversified REIT to a pure-play logistics REIT.
Connor also highlights what Duke Realty does for the environment and advancing DEI—steps that were recognized when Duke Realty won Nareit’s 2019 DEI Award, and Connor received an individual award. This kind of balanced approach from our corporate leaders is so important given the scope of social and environmental issues we face today—and underscores the strong sense of commitment to progress found throughout the REIT industry.