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It is one thing to want a sovereign wealth fund but to actually set one up is a long and challenging process, as countries such as Brazil are discovering. Key issues such as infrastructure, hiring people and asset allocation need to be addressed before the investing process can even be considered.

Often sovereign funds call on investment management consultants, such as Watson Wyatt and Mercer, as well as other advisory outfits, to help them. "There’s a huge need for helping sovereign funds build the infrastructure, the risk models and the asset allocation," says Afsaneh Beschloss, a former treasurer and chief investment officer at the World Bank, who is now chief executive and president of the Rock Creek Group, a firm that provides advisory services to sovereign funds as well as managing money on their behalf. "These are the areas that need the greatest consideration. The investing part is almost easier."

Getting the basics right is the secret to success, adds Beschloss, who during her time at the World Bank started a project to advise and manage money for a number of sovereign wealth funds and central banks.

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