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Will Robson

Will Robson

Executive Director, MSCI Research

Will Robson co-heads the real-assets research team, with responsibility for EMEA and APAC. He also leads the direction and delivery of MSCI’s applied research agenda. Previously, Will was a founding member of the real-estate research team at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, where he spent close to five years. Will holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of York and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Newcastle University.

Research and Insights

Articles by Will Robson

    Real Assets in Focus: Are We Nearly There Yet?

    5 mins read Blog | May 15, 2024 | Will Robson, Niel Harmse, Fritz Louw, Willem Vlaming

    Investors are still waiting for a recovery in commercial real estate. We outline the state of play in early 2024 and identify potential signposts for an upturn in the asset class.  

    2024 Trends to Watch in Real Assets

    8 mins read Blog | Dec 13, 2023 | Will Robson, Alexis Maltin, Jim Costello, David Green-Morgan, Tom Leahy, Benjamin Martin-Henry, Bryan Reid

    After the market dislocation of 2023, investors will be hoping for a calmer 2024 in commercial real estate. We identify five key influences to help investors navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead.  

    Style Factors for Private Real Estate–Beyond Property Type and Location

    Research Report | Oct 24, 2023 | Bryan Reid, Fritz Louw, Will Robson

    For many real-estate investors, property-type and geography segmentations are the primary lens through which they measure and manage their portfolios. But could real-estate style factors play a role in helping investors manage their portfolios more systematically? 

    Real Estate Investors Brace for Bumpy 2023

    Podcast | Feb 9, 2023 | Will Robson, David Green-Morgan

    It is increasingly clear that commercial real estate is experiencing a downturn but, due to the relative opacity of private real estate, it is not clear how much further we may have to go before we reach the bottom. Industry veterans David Green-Morgan and Will Robson join us for an in-depth discussion on performance drivers and where investors may be focused as 2023 marches on.

    Did Closed-End Real Estate Funds Add Value?

    6 mins read Blog | Aug 3, 2022 | Will Robson, Niel Harmse

    Global real estate markets enjoyed their strongest returns since the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) as they bounced back from COVID-19-induced weakness last year.

    Global Real Estate Returns at a Turning Point?

    2 mins read Quick Take | Jul 12, 2022 | Will Robson

    Global real estate returns accelerated to 17.8% on a 12-month rolling basis in the first quarter of 2022 despite the growing headwinds of geopolitical tensions and associated rising inflation and interest rates, the debut results of the MSCI Global Quarterly Property Index show.

    What Drove 2021 Real Estate Returns?

    5 mins read Blog | Mar 25, 2022 | Niel Harmse, Will Robson

    As 2021 real estate index returns roll in, we’ve seen a broad-based acceleration of returns across nearly all countries and property types. But what can looking beyond the aggregate index returns tell us about the difference between the winners and losers?

    2022 Private-Asset Trends to Watch

    6 mins read Blog | Jan 13, 2022 | Will Robson

    Private-asset investors are waking up to the urgency of the climate crisis, while dealing with other long-term disruptive trends that accelerated during the pandemic. We may see a substantial reallocation of capital as investors respond to these challenges.

    Benchmarking Pan-Regional Real Estate Funds

    5 mins read Blog | Sep 2, 2021 | Will Robson

    Real estate investors have increasingly sought pan-regional funds to diversify globally. But such funds’ exposures can be significantly different from the market at large. What’s an appropriate benchmark for these diversified fund investments?

    Translating Climate Goals into Action in Real Estate Portfolios

    5 mins read Blog | Jun 28, 2021 | Will Robson, Niel Harmse

    Many investors have made bold commitments to transition their real estate portfolios to net-zero carbon emissions and are now developing and implementing plans to achieve this goal. But what could this transition look like in practice for property portfolios?

    Real Estate’s Climate-Transition Risk: The Path to Net-Zero

    5 mins read Blog | May 25, 2021 | Will Robson

    The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to keep the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and many governments are aiming for 1.5°C through nationally determined contributions. What are the implications for real estate markets?

    Reports of the Office’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Podcast | May 13, 2021 | Will Robson

    In some parts of the world, the return to the office is no longer theoretical. Companies and workers have seen that there are some parts of some jobs that don’t need to be done in an office. Will office life revert to the mean or will the re-emergence from a fully remote workforce reveal a new normal?

    2021 Real Estate Trends to Watch

    4 mins read Blog | Jan 12, 2021 | Will Robson

    COVID-19 has caused a severe and rapid economic contraction and accelerated secular changes already hitting parts of the real estate markets. Investors face a fundamental question: How will real estate evolve as a sector and asset class? Here are our 2021 real estate trends to watch.

    Was Infrastructure Solid During COVID-19?

    6 mins read Blog | Oct 27, 2020 | Will Robson, Niel Harmse

    Infrastructure investments have not been spared the effects of the pandemic. A closer look across investment types, subsectors and risk levels over time may provide useful perspective as private-capital firms and their investors manage through.

    Rethinking Real Estate Post COVID-19

    Podcast | May 7, 2020 | Will Robson

    Will Robson, global head of real estate solutions research, examines the question: “Is it the end of the office as we know it?” He looks at how uncertainty around the potential shift to virtual work and redesigned office spaces may affect commercial real estate valuations, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated existing real estate trends.

    2020 Emerging Real Estate Trends

    Blog | Jan 16, 2020 | Will Robson

    From managing climate risk to advances in analytics, 2020 may be a watershed year for real estate. Read our top five emerging trends likely to be front of mind for global real estate investors in 2020 and beyond

    Research Snapshot: MSCI Real Estate Report

    Research Report | Dec 5, 2019 | Will Robson

    This year's research snapshot explores the investment challenges facing the industry from the risks of late cycle investing to disruptive technology and how to incorporate ESG into your investment strategy. The snapshot also provides an overview of global property market trends across sectors and markets and as part of the wider MSCI business we also explore issues relevant to institutional investors, such as looking at real estate in a multi-asset class context.

    Digging deeper into pan-European property funds’ performance

    Blog | Nov 26, 2019 | Will Robson

    Property investors who invest across a broad region, like Europe, can use a peer-group benchmark to gauge relative performance. But to determine the specific drivers of returns, detailed asset-level performance attribution can help shed light.

    Underwater assets? Real estate exposure to flood risk

    Blog | Sep 17, 2019 | Gillian Mollod, Will Robson

    Real estate investors are buying and leasing assets that might be jeopardized by a climate-changed world. A new analysis can help investors identify high-risk U.K. locations.

    Have appraisers been too bullish on retail real estate?

    Blog | Jul 30, 2019 | Will Robson

    Media commentary has fixated on the shuttering of shops, while retail-focused REITs are priced at substantial discounts to the value of their assets. Have appraisers of retail real estate been excessively bullish?

    2019 Emerging Real Estate Trends

    Blog | Feb 5, 2019 | Will Robson

    For real estate investors, 2019 may be a year of adjusting to rapid changes arising from a variety of sources, including environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) risks; geopolitical uncertainty; and disruptive technology.

    MSCI Real Estate Research Snapshot

    Research Report | Dec 3, 2018 | Will Robson, Jay Mcnamara

    This year’s Real Estate Research Snapshot highlights the broad range of investment problems MSCI Real Estate’s data can be applied to. With emphasis on the importance of global consistency in data we provide an overview of global property market trends across sectors and markets. As part of the wider MSCI business, we also explore issues relevant to asset owners, looking at real estate from a higher perspective. Questions surrounding interest rate risk and currency hedging are addressed here,...

    Benchmarking in Real Estate: Beyond Performance Measurement

    Research Report | Nov 27, 2018 | Will Robson, Bryan Reid

    Investors allocate to private real estate for a myriad of reasons, which means their investment objectives can vary substantially.   As such, investors articulate their objectives in various ways such as market-based benchmarks, inflation related targets or perhaps absolute return targets.  However, an objective is not a strategy; Investors must make this translation from objective to strategy, through to execution.  Market-based benchmarking and associated analytics form...

    Global Real Estate: To Hedge, or Not to Hedge

    Blog | Sep 12, 2018 | Will Robson, Bryan Reid

    While not quite as profound as the Shakespearean original, it is still quite a tricky one for real estate investors to grapple with. Until fairly recently, it is one that has been avoided by the majority of real estate investors due to their heavy home bias. But the increasing global nature of the asset class, combined with rising currency volatility, means the question is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.

    Brick by Brick: Asset-Level Underwriting in Real Estate

    Blog | May 8, 2018 | Will Robson

    Due to the private nature of real estate, investors are often faced with making decisions based on broad market-level information or data relating to a rarified class of hypothetical, top-quality, perfectly located, “prime” benchmark properties, which, much like Peter Pan, never age.

    Retail Apocalypse: Should Mall Owners be Worried?

    Blog | Feb 7, 2018 | Will Robson

    Retailer bankruptcies, department store struggles and empty malls have dominated recent headlines. The apparent culprit? A massive movement toward online shopping, driven by retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart.

    Understanding the True Risk of Real Estate Assets

    Blog | Sep 26, 2017 | Will Robson

    When developing investment strategies, institutional investors in private real estate tend to rely on market-level performance data. But many real estate investors know that every asset is different and even two seemingly identical assets in the same area can produce very different returns. How can they better understand the true risk underlying their exposures when developing their strategies?