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The relationship between size, diversification and risk

University of Reading
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Property portfolio diversification takes many forms, most of which can be associated with asset size. In other words larger property portfolios are assumed to have greater diversification potential than small portfolios. In addition, since greater diversification is generally associated with lower risk it is assumed that larger property portfolios will also have reduced return variability compared with smaller portfolios. If large property portfolios can simply be regarded as scaled-up, better-diversified versions of small property portfolios, then the greater a portfolio’s asset size, the lower its risk. This suggests a negative relationship between asset size and risk. However, if large property portfolios are not simply scaled-up versions of small portfolios, the relationship between asset size and risk may be unclear. For instance, if large portfolios hold riskier assets or pursue more volatile investment strategies, it may be that a positive relationship between asset size and risk would be observed, even if large property portfolios are more diversified. This paper tests the empirical relationship between property portfolio size, diversification and risk, in Institutional portfolios in the UK, during the period from 1989 to 1999 to determine which of these two characterisations is more appropriate.

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