Corporate overview

Dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in everything we do, Cohen & Steers is a leading global investment manager specializing in real assets and alternative income, focused on delivering attractive returns, income and diversification.

Our teams are relentless in their drive to provide superior investment solutions and passionate about constantly innovating to meet the needs of clients today and anticipate their challenges of tomorrow.

In 1986, Marty Cohen and Bob Steers set out to help investors capitalize on the emerging opportunity they saw in public REITs. They were convinced that listed real estate could open the market to investors, drive demand and make real estate a larger share of portfolios globally, while also offering opportunities to generate meaningful alpha. It was fertile ground for an active asset management business that continues to thrive today.

Over time, we have expanded operations into Europe and Asia Pacific, extending offerings to investors around the world and forming the industry’s largest global investment team dedicated to real estate securities. Through careful consideration, we have added to our investment capabilities, becoming the largest manager of preferred securities and establishing a global research platform for real estate, infrastructure and other listed real assets.

Our focus is delivering superior investment performance, building around our core strengths in real assets and alternative income to meet the growing demand for yield, diversification and real returns.

Cohen & Steers is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Dublin, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2004 (ticker CNS).

Philosophy for REITs

We believe publicly traded real estate securities are an attractive way to allocate to real estate. The philosophy that guides all our real estate strategies is based on the following principles:

  • Market inefficiencies may create opportunities: Equity markets tend to be inherently inefficient at pricing real estate fundamentals due to the need to understand local economic conditions, supply and demand of various property types, tenants’ financial health, equity market technical factors and the unique financial metrics used to measure real estate operating performance. While REITs may trade like equities in the short-term, long-term performance is primarily driven by the performance of the underlying property portfolios. As a result, active managers have the potential to capitalize on inefficiencies through stock selection by identifying material dislocations between share prices and fundamentals.

  • Research can deliver a sustainable advantage: Generating consistent alpha requires a deeply resourced fundamental research platform, providing an information edge for identifying undervalued securities relative to asset values and growth prospects. As listed real estate specialists, we tend to be more attuned to changes in property fundamentals, often allowing us to trade on information earlier and faster than generalist managers, for which real estate tends to comprise only a small portion of their portfolios.

  • We believe attracting and developing a deep bench of talent is critical to long-term success: A team approach that emphasizes stability, collaboration and continuous improvement fosters a culture of investment excellence, providing the experience and perspective to successfully navigate real estate and stock market cycles.

  • Local decision-making within a global process: The drivers of real estate fundamentals are inherently local, so there is a benefit to locating analysts on the ground in the regions they cover. When integrated into a global team, these analysts can elevate the exchange of ideas, combining local and global perspectives.

  • Integrated risk management is paramount: Delivery of superior risk-adjusted returns demands an embedded, comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to risk management.

Competitive advantages

As the first investment advisor to focus on real estate securities, with a longstanding commitment to the asset class, our top priority is to deliver strong investment performance through our industry-leading real estate securities platform. Our dedication, combined with our drive for excellence, has led to us to build a foundation that is designed to provide sustainable outperformance relative to our peers. 

We believe our real estate securities investment platform provides the following competitive advantages:

  • Large, Experienced and Dedicated Investment Team

With 21 professionals, we employ one of the largest and most experienced investment teams dedicated to global real estate securities, providing competitive market coverage and access to information on listed property investments. We have portfolio managers, research analysts and traders located in key markets, including New York, London and Hong Kong. Our eight portfolio managers have an average of 22 years of investment experience and have been with the Firm for an average of 13 years.

We believe our team’s size and depth allow us to go deeper in our analysis of companies and management teams and expend significant time reviewing investment theses, allowing for extensive testing of assumptions and investment cases. Our analysts are located in the regions they cover; collectively, they conduct more than 1,500 company visits annually through in-person meetings, property visits, conference calls and at industry conferences. Under normal circumstances, the team makes over 175 full days of property tours each year and communicates closely with management teams. By virtue of our large team and our access to managements and boards of directors, we typically interact with portfolio companies 10-20 times per year. In addition, as noted in more detail below, we also take an active approach to talent management, with an eye on positioning our team to generate consistent alpha. We believe our commitment to maintaining an industry-leading team with built-in redundancy helps distinguish us among our key competitors.

We also employ dedicated macro strategy and risk management teams that are focused on issues and factors specific to real asset investing. More details on these teams are provided below.

  •  Disciplined Investment Process

    • Investment process architecture: We believe that our investment process, which emphasizes global integration and standardization, and built around a common valuation model, helps to distinguish us from other real estate managers. Over decades, it has demonstrated its scalability and adaptability and assisted us in our goal to deliver outperformance consistently across our entire platform of strategies regardless of the benchmark, portfolio concentration, regional focus, and sectoral or other universe constraints. 
    • Extensive proprietary research: The research conducted by our investment teams is the hallmark of what we do at Cohen & Steers. By virtue of the depth and experience of our team, we believe our fundamental research capabilities help distinguish us from our competitors. 
    • Portfolio construction process: Our portfolio construction process is grounded in our propriety valuation model, which distills our research findings and systematically ranks companies in our universe based on their relative value. This process instills a disciplined approach to portfolio construction and trading decisions. Additionally, we employ advanced risk tools, including proprietary analytical software designed to support our portfolio construction and monitoring processes in real estate securities.
    • Continuous improvement: Our commitment to continuous improvement drives ongoing evaluation of our methods, structure and investment process with the goal of promoting continued success. This includes the embrace of new technologies and alternative data to enhance our processes and research efforts. An illustration is our proprietary “web scraper,” which tracks real-time pricing data from various sources and helps inform our views on the companies and sectors in which we invest. The scraper provides real-time insights into property fundamentals and can help the team assess top-line revenue trends relative to expectations. The web-scraper is used for apartments, single family residential, senior housing, hotels, casinos and self-storage. We get thousands of pricing data points each time we scrape a company’s website. We scrape the website 3 times per week, so we get 3x as many data points per week per company. This means we can get over 1 million data points annual per company that we can use to determine real-time pricing.
  • Advantageous Market Position

In our view, the size of our assets under management in listed real estate and our significant presence in global markets offer advantageous access to information. We believe we are viewed by company managements, sell-side analysts, real estate specialists, boutique research firms and other real estate and securities resources as a priority shareholder and client. We have strong relationships with the global brokerage community in terms of research and trading access. We leverage this access and information into value-added investment decisions for our clients. 

In addition, we believe our market position amplifies our ability to influence company management teams toward decisions that we believe will benefit shareholders. For example, we were a driving player in the recapitalization of REITs during the global financial crisis, enabling us to make significant investments at attractive valuations. We are now monitoring opportunities to provide capital infusions to REITs in a variety of ways, including helping healthy companies take advantage of opportunistic acquisitions, improving strained capital structures of otherwise sound businesses and assisting high quality but cyclically challenged businesses survive.

Finally, we believe our industry-leading presence in the REIT space can help serve as a retention and recruitment tool to attract talented investors.

  • Financial Strength

We believe Cohen & Steers benefits from a strong balance sheet (no debt and substantial cash and liquid assets), providing the resources to expand and enhance our global real estate platform as necessary. As we have in the past, we strive to continue to evolve as a Firm to accommodate the growing demands of our customer base and tailor our resources to deliver strong performance for our clients. 

In addition, our strong balance sheet has allowed us to weather challenging market environments and market downturns. For example, during the global financial crisis, the Firm did not undertake cost-cutting measures such as reductions in core functions or headcount. Instead, we were able invest in resources to position the Firm for strength during the market recovery. The Firm continues to be in sound financial condition and similarly has no plans to reduce headcount or functions during the current environment.

  •  Ownership Structure

Our ownership structure provides transparency to investors and enables us to attract and retain key professionals who are strongly incentivized to deliver compelling, long-term investment returns for our REIT strategies. 

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, we believe our history of generating superior risk-adjusted returns in our real estate securities portfolios over more than 35 years reflects the effectiveness of our platform and its potential to be successful in the future.