Nuveen adds farmland strategy to wealth advisory platform iCapital

The TIAA affiliate reportedly plans to initially not charge any fees as a way to entice independent RIAs, broker-dealers and other wealth management firms.

Nuveen has added farmland to its partnership with iCapital, a platform through which it already offers wealth management advisers access to its private equity, credit and real estate strategies.

Nuveen announced in late July that iCapital would begin to offer the Nuveen Global Farmland strategy managed by Nuveen Natural Capital. The vehicle’s strategy is described as including investments across “major agricultural regions of the world” and properties devoted to corn, soybeans, rice, cotton, vegetables, almonds, pistachios and raisin grapes.

Nuveen did not reply to messages seeking further detail.

Nuveen’s head of global alternative investments product, Keith Jones, said in a statement: “Because of the strong fundamentals, risk-adjusted returns, low correlations with traditional investments and inflation protection of the asset class we anticipate significant interest from the qualified wealth investor segment, just as we have seen from institutional investors increasing their allocation to global farmland.”

Dan Vene, iCapital co-founder and managing partner, told Financial Advisor magazine that Nuveen initiated the expansion of offerings on the platform. Nuveen plans to initially not charge any fees as a way to entice independent registered investment advisers, independent broker-dealers and other wealth management firms.

“In this particular case, we are not necessarily going out and finding the fund we desire to work with,” Vene said. “However, Nuveen’s experience was a factor in iCapital’s desire to partner. Nuveen is far and away a leader in the space and brings forth a level of sophistication in investing in farmland that very few investors have the capabilities to today.”

Lay of the land

Jones said Nuveen plans to discuss with advisers how to integrate farmland with other alternative investments, like real estate. Vene added that the diversification offered by the Nuveen Global Farmland portfolio’s inclusion of properties located in Chile was a key part of its advantage.

Jones added: “We do think that having some diversification across a global footprint is going to help drive value in the portfolio.”

Nuveen drew from its open-end Nuveen Global Farmland Fund to support an October 2022 acquisition of 5,000 California acres for $67 million. The deal involved a combination of more than 30 parcels acquired from the family of Robert and Sharon Hilarides of Tulare, California.

California properties account for the majority of the 24 assets described as being part of Nuveen’s Global Farmland Fund (NGGF) portfolio on a website dedicated to the fund.

NGGF had raised $1.05 billion from 27 LPs towards its $2.4 billion target as of a January regulatory filing.  The vehicle targets net IRRs of between 7 and 9 percent through farmland investments averaging $20 million in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Romania and Chile, according to a presentation to the Vermont State Retirement System.

Row crops account for 55 percent of the 3 million total farmland and timber acres managed by Nuveen, according to its 2023 sustainability report. Twenty-seven percent of acres in the Nuveen portfolio are dedicated to timber, with sugar cane, horticulture and wine grapes accounting for the remainder.