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Pining for Peers, Majority of Investors Are Comfortable With Local Events Next Spring

Just over half of allocators and consultants would consider attending outdoor regional events next year, according to a major Institutional Investor survey.

After eight months of virtual meetings and Zoom conferences, institutional investors are looking to ease back to in-person events next year, according to an Institutional Investor survey of nearly 300 allocators and consultants.

The majority — 53 percent — said they would feel either somewhat or entirely comfortable attending outdoor regional events in the spring, even as most said they would still not want to travel for more traditional indoor conferences. Respondents from consulting firms, endowments, and foundations were among those who were most willing to attend regional events, while health care investors expressed the least amenability.

II conducted the survey over the last four weeks, as coronavirus infections rose once again in the U.S. Most of the responses came in before this weekend, when Pfizer and BioNTech reported promising preliminary results on their Covid-19 vaccine.

Participants in the survey were asked to describe their level of comfort about attending three types of events: regional, “resort-style,” and traditional. Regional events were defined as local, outdoor gatherings with no air travel, while resort-style events would take place outside at destinations like Miami or Aspen. Traditional events described indoor gatherings in major cities.

In all three cases, respondents were told that the events would be broken into small networking groups and that masks and social distancing would be required.

[II Deep Dive: Investors Loved to Whine About Conferences. Now, They’re Pining.]

While 53 percent said they would be at least somewhat comfortable attending local events in the spring, a smaller portion — 38 percent — expressed comfort with traveling to resort-style events. As with regional events, investment consultants and endowment and foundation investors were among those who were most comfortable attending resort events. Corporate pension respondents expressed the most hesitation with resort-style events, followed by health care investors.

Unsurprisingly, traditional indoor conferences were the least popular format, with only one quarter of polled professionals citing at least some comfort with the prospect of attending such events.

Investment consultants made up the largest group of respondents, accounting for about 28 percent of the surveyed group, followed by endowments and foundations and public pension funds. Insurance investors made up just 5 percent of the total, or 15 respondents, but were the most willing to attend events in the spring, with 73 percent expressing at least some level of comfort toward regional events and 53 percent saying the same about resort-style events.

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