New Graaskamp Center director's research challenges traditional approach to portfolios

March 7, 2019 | By Jane Burns | Back to news
Mark Eppli (right) discusses current topics on a recent faculty panel.
Mark Eppli (right) discusses current topics on a recent faculty panel. Photo by Paul L. Newby II

In a long career as a scholar, Mark Eppli learned a new important lesson this academic year: You can go home again.

Eppli is in his first year as director of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business and will be the featured speaker Tuesday, March 12 at the Wisconsin at Work event in Denver. As a triple Badger (BBA ’83, M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’91), Eppli now holds a position that takes him back to where his career began.

“My first question when I took the job was ‘Can you go back?’” Eppli says. “But I did, it’s been great, and it’s a privilege.”

As a student, Eppli had the chance to learn under James Graaskamp, whom Eppli credits with inspiring him in real estate and onto his career path. Now he has the chance to help build on Graaskamp’s legacy, and the proud tradition of real estate and urban land economics at WSB.

“This is a unique position that is perfect for me—one-third research, one-third teaching, one-third outreach,” Eppli says.

Eppli returned to his alma mater as a highly respected researcher, educator, administrator, and real estate policy expert. He came to WSB from Marquette University, where he was instrumental in building the university’s real estate program that launched in 2005.

“We went from two adjunct-taught courses a year to a program that was ranked in the top 10 each of my last three years by U.S. News & World Report, and we set up a real estate center,” he says.

Eppli is widely published in commercial real estate finance, development, and valuation. His work studying holding periods for investment portfolios challenges traditional notions of how to build for retirement, and will be the focus of his discussion in Denver.

“Have they gotten it all wrong?” Eppli says of the traditional use of one-year standard deviation to measure risk.

The rule of thumb in investment is that stocks and real estate are riskier than bonds, and that a diversified portfolio of all three is the smart, safe approach to retirement planning.

“Step back for a second,” Eppli says. “Is your retirement hold period one year? It’s not. You’re going to hold for a long period of time.”

Eppli’s research suggests measuring risk over the likely holding period of the investment. That has important implications for investment choices in a longterm portfolio, he says. Stocks, in the long term, might prove no riskier than bonds, Eppli says.

Eppli will discuss his research and findings and give an update on WSB and UW–Madison at the Wisconsin at Work events in Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Wisconsin at Work
The Wisconsin at Work event in Denver takes place Tuesday, March 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $15 per person. Learn more and register.

View information about all our Wisconsin at Work events.