2018 Knowledge Brokers New Guards

Michael Golubic

From his perch at The Townsend Group’s San Francisco office, Michael Golubic has seen client demand for infrastructure assets in their portfolios rapidly increase over the past decade. And he’s played no small part in his own firm’s growing activity serving that market. That’s because Golubic, a partner at Townsend, an investment management and advisory services primarily focused on real estate and real assets, is in charge of evaluating investment managers and selecting funds in infrastructure, as well as Latin American real estate.

In that role, Golubic, who is the primary senior relationship manager and portfolio manager to Townsend’s discretionary clients, leads the firm’s efforts finding, evaluating and vetting infrastructure investment opportunities in primary funds, secondary markets, and co-investments. It’s a group of assets that ranges widely, including roads, renewable energy, schools, and hospitals, to name a few areas. “While investors tend to have different definitions of what infrastructure comprises, we continue to be favorably inclined toward the sector as a whole,” he says. “It’s become a much more accepted asset class than ever before.”

With a focus on global institutional investors, Townsend, which was bought by global professional services giant Aon in January, offers several types of services. First of all, through its advisory arm, the firm does everything from creating investment policies and strategic planning to portfolio construction. It also acts as an outsourced CIO and investment staff, providing those same services. With $15.8 billion  in assets under management and $157.9 billion in assets under advisement, clients include pension funds, endowments, and other institutional investors. Plus, Townsend offers its own open-end funds, closed-end funds, and co-investment programs.

For Golubic, the time is right for including infrastructure assets in portfolios. They tend to offer long-term, stable cash flows and inflation protection—something particularly important for investors who may envision an economic slowdown in the not-so-distant future. “The sector has a fairly low correlation to economic cycles, offering some protection from any downturn we might experience over the next two years,” he says.

Golubic attributes the sector’s rapid growth this past decade to the prevailing low-interest rate environment, as investors searched hungrily for stable yield. As a result, much like the trajectory of real estate, which became a widely held asset class beginning in the late 1990s, “Infrastructure is now institutionalized,” he says.  

In fact, it’s only since the mid-2000s, he says, that investors have started to regard infrastructure as a separate asset class worthy of significant investment. And while, initially, there were only a handful of managers with a track record and expertise in the area, those ranks have grown to several hundred offering a variety of strategies. “The opportunity set to invest has grown significantly,” he says. That, of course, also has created a bigger market for firms like Townsend that can provide expertise in this area.

Golubic started out at Townsend in 2003, right out of college, and has been there since. He spent the first few years working in a variety of real estate strategies, from non-core US to Latin American. Twelve years ago, he started focusing on the world of infrastructure opportunities. “My role has evolved over time,” he says.

By Anne Field

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