Investors have certainly had their share of heartache over the past five or so years.
Most market experts have been stunned by the fact that all asset classes were affected, albeit to different degrees. What is clear is that better communication with clients allays fears and allows investors to think rationally about the situation. Certainly in our world, property funds management, we have had our challenges, in particular, the ongoing effect of frozen funds.
Property is by its very nature illiquid - you've all heard the analogy that you can't sell your own house in under six weeks, so why should you be able to get a property investment back on a daily basis.
The sad fact was that before the real effects of the global financial crisis set in, property fund managers were swayed to offering liquidity in the race for the most funds under management. The world of platforms dictated its necessity. And people flooded to them in droves - because property never falls in value, right? Wrong.
The reality is that property investments are long term for a reason - prices move up and down in all asset classes.
In property we consider that you really need a full business cycle - generally seven years - to get the full benefits of the investment, plus cover the initial costs. Investors must be fully informed of this message, and then told again. It's important that if any investors aren't able to handle having a long-term investment as part of their portfolio, then they shouldn't invest.
This message was lost during pre-GFC times, but it's now one that we need to have at the forefront of our communications.
And it is one that we think needs to be told through a collaborative effort of the funds management and adviser industries.
When the GFC hit and prices went down, the liquidity promised disappeared, leaving investors bewildered and angry; unfortunately, much of this anger was levelled at advisers rather than the fund managers. And much of the legislative changes that have come into effect also target the advisers rather than managers. This has done little for the relationship between the two camps.
It's important to remember that the GFC was an event like no other in our history. Fund managers had to deal with multiple issues - property values, gearing levels, and investor and adviser fears and expectations.
History will show that some dealt with it better than others, and some had more realistic funds that held up better than others.
In many cases, borrowing levels had been too high and so not only did they become frozen but their distributions were frozen as well.
Matthew Burrows is the managing director of Denison Funds Management.