UNITED STATES - Ennis Knupp & Associates is seeking on expanding its expertise in the real estate asset class as the firm intends to hire four new people over coming months to increase its exposure to the asset class.

Scott Brown, principal and head of global real estate for Ennis Knupp, believes there is scope for growth because the consultancy market is currently dominated by a handful of large firms.

"This really makes sense for us to do this," said Brown.

"We have 175 pension fund clients. Around from 33% to 50% of them are now active in real estate. And this will be a significant part of our business moving forward.

"The major players in this field are The Townsend Group, Callan Associates and Pension Consulting Alliance. We think there is room for a company like ourselves," he added.

Ennis Knupp is not new to working in the real estate asset class as it had consulted on real estate investments for pension fund clients in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

That said, Brown believes the market has considerably changed since then.

Core assets are fully priced, so this makes it very difficult to invest in this strategy now. There are more opportunities to be had on a value-added or with a global investment strategy. The asset class in general is still a good inflation hedge and a place to produce solid income returns."

Ennis Knupp currently represents a mixture of small and large pension funds on a non-discretionary basis including Public Employees’ Retirement Association of Colorado, American Bar Association and Florida State Board of Administration.