Alternative assets, including real estate, have benefited in recent years from high valuations for bonds and equities. However, with the same pressures of cheap and plentiful cash feeding into alternatives, returns are tightening and investors are having to be more inventive. A recent report by PwC ‘rediscovering alternative assets in changing times’ considers this further. For real estate a common theme in the past year has been traditional investors looking for ways to move up the risk curve by taking operational positions on real assets – an area previously dominated by private equity. PwC describe this as “less about ownership and more about access” as space-as-a-service becomes mainstream. A key challenge around this change is the skills and platform requirements needed to build an operating business. This doesn’t happen at the flick of a switch, and suitable skills within the industry are typically scarce. However, with operational exposure creating additional returns and often a positioning advantage, the ‘do nothing’ scenario increasingly leaves investors behind the curve. With greater exposure to less secure income also comes risk, and an industry shift towards property as a service is likely to result in greater diversity of fortunes in the years to come.