February 28, 2018

Long-term investing in public equity markets:what does success look like...and how to organize it?

By Jaap van Dam and Lars Dijkstra

In 2015, fifteen Dutch CIOs of asset owners and asset managers wrote an article with the title: ‘Short-term profit or long-term value creation?’ A growing group of pension funds, asset managers, consultants and companies worldwide try to answer this question.


The core aspects of long-term investing are the following: you pay attention to value creation, the potential to create strategic value with the companies you do or do not invest in; so you think fundamentally about investing; your portfolio has focus and therefore invests in far fewer companies than in the entire market; you invest with patience; you are involved, you act as an owner; you pay attention to the societal impact of the company, for example CO2 emissions. The benchmark then has a completely different, more of a free role than what’s currently the case when investing in public equity markets.

This paper is a practical next step following the article of the CIOs. We try to be as concrete as possible, and we go from ‘why’ to ‘how’. The ‘how’ of long-term investing has two major challenges, namely (1) how to minimize the principal-agent problems around long-term investments, and (2) how to maximizethe impact on the companies in which you invest. We mainly focus on the first challenge and discuss four practical topics in this article:

  1. What does success look like?

  2. How to organize long-term investments well? How to regulate governance?

  3. How to shape mandates and how to monitor progress?

  4. How to give the asset manager the right incentives?

We see the pension fund as the party that seeks to organize long- term investments well, in the interest of its participants. Whilst this paper is for an international audience, we realize that there may be international differences between, for example, the views on sustainability or societal effects.

Download the full whitepaper (pdf , 94.64 KB)


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