13 Oct 2023

UK pension funds are the most important source of investment in productive assets in the UK - AREF urges the Government to take the handbrake off.

Following the Chancellor’s statement at the 2023 Spring Budget AREF was delighted to make a submission to HMT for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.  In the Budget, the Chancellor stated:

“… we need to build a larger, more diverse financing system, where the benefits of investment in high growth firms are available to more investors.  So I will return in the Autumn Statement with a plan to deliver that.  It will include measures to unlock productive investment from defined contribution pension funds and other sources …”

AREF’s Submission makes a number of suggestions to help unlock that investment.  In line with the agenda of the Government-convened Productive Finance Working Group (PFWG) and in support of the levelling up, regional generation and growth agenda, AREF takes “productive investment” to include that in commercial real estate and infrastructure, as well as other illiquid assets such as venture capital, private equity and private debt.  Given AREF’s expertise, the thrust of the submission is focussed on facilitating investment from UK Defined Contribution (DC) pension funds into commercial real estate and measures which can then be generalised to facilitate investment into other illiquid assets.

Read our Submission here





AREF will soon be releasing a Policy Position Paper for members based on this Submission.



Paul Richards

Paul Richards


Paul is the CEO of AREF.  Before joining AREF in 2020, Paul was Head of the European Real Estate Boutique within Mercer’s investment consulting business for almost 10 years, previously he was Head of Indirect Real Estate Investment and Global Managed Accounts at LaSalle Investment Management, where he was responsible for managing global portfolios of unlisted real estate funds for clients from Europe and Asia Pacific.

He has over 25 years of real estate experience in investment, corporate finance and research, and has advised investors, occupiers and venture capital companies on property portfolio strategy and on financial structuring, including PFI, senior and mezzanine debt and joint venture arrangements. His employers have included LaSalle Investment Management, Cushman & Wakefield and Henderson Investors.

Before coming into the world of real estate, Paul worked in marketing and market research. He originally studied Physiological Sciences at Lincoln College, Oxford and has a Master of Science in Real Estate from City University Business School, London, now Cass Business School.