commercial real estate for sale sign All told, the Real Property Fund holds 19 assets valued at more than $1 billion. Its top-ten holdings include office, multi-family, and retail spaces in Seattle, Silicon Valley, Manhattan, Boston, and Palm Beach. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In 2016, the largest defined benefit plans within U.S. Fortune 1,000 companies held upwards of 15 percent of assets in real estate, private equity, hedge funds, and “other” alternatives, according to analysis by Willis Towers Watson. Smaller pensions with less than $500 million in assets were less reliant on alts, averaging about a 6 percent allocation. Around the world, pension funds large and small, public and private, leverage alternatives to balance risk and meet funding goals. But what about 401(k) plans?

For investors in defined contribution plans, opportunities to diversify beyond a stock, bond, and cash mix are scant, despite some research—though not a consensus—that shows long-term investors in 401(k) plans could benefit from institutionalizing their approach to retirement savings.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.

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