StepStone eyes additional real assets hire

The private markets group is finalising a fourth hire to its real assets team as it emphasises the importance of the asset class.

StepStone Group, the private markets investment manager and advisory firm, is in the process of finalising the hire of a fourth person to its real assets division after launching a dedicated platform in January. The new hire will join the firm’s London office.

The firm currently has three people dedicated to offering institutional investors exposure to real assets as a multi-asset strategy across agriculture, infrastructure, mining, timberland, oil and gas. The team are based across Asia, Australia and the US.

StepStone believes that agriculture investing should form part of a wider real assets allocation because it can be challenging to find an allocation for newer or industry-specific investment strategies, such as agriculture, David Altushuler, partner and co-head of real assets at StepStone told Agri Investor.

“We have noticed that many institutions do not know where to put investments such as agriculture so they often get put into opportunistic allocations or are left out completely. We hope that introducing a broader allocation for real assets will help,” he said.

“We focus on an asset’s underlying risks, sources of revenue and how these fit into the wider portfolio overall. We don’t consider investment to be a bucket-filling exercise and our approach for certain mandates may not have set targets for each asset class within real assets.”

StepStone creates customised private markets portfolios consisting of investments in primary funds, secondaries and co-investments.

The firm hired Altshuler, Brenden Woods, his co-head, and Kate Budiselik, vice president, in January from various backgrounds. Altshuler was a pension plan consultant focusing on infrastructure, energy and other real assets at Meketa Investment Group; Woods joined StepStone from Macquarie Group’s investment management arm in Australia where he was head of real assets for the department’s private markets division. Woods brought Budiselik with him from Macquarie but before that she worked as an LP at Western Australia’s Government Employees Superannuation Board formulating and managing infrastructure, real estate and private equity strategies.

Altshuler hopes the real assets team will closely with StepStone’s existing venture capital, energy and private equity desks and believes there will be many synergies between the different departments.

“The way that our business is organised means that we can work closely with our venture capital and private equity teams on potential crossovers such as agriculture technology, for example,” he said. “We could also find synergies with the energy team on areas such as bio-fuels and chemicals so we can really benefit from our existing expertise.”