Endowments

A deeper look inside the investment returns of some of the most prestigious endowments in the world.

Every fall brings with it excitement and some surprise in a much-watched annual contest. No, we’re not talking about the World Series but rather endowment-reporting season when most schools report their fiscal year investment returns.

In this section of our Research we will focus on analyses of the top endowment funds using MPI Stylus, which has become a solution for investors assessing complex funds and those with limited data disclosures (e.g., hedge funds).  The project below is an attempt to bring more transparency to the opaque world of some of the most largest and successful investors in the world. MPI’s analyses provide insight into these top endowments that cannot be achieved using other methods and suggests reasons for the range of performance outcomes they report.

In-depth Endowment Research

We embarked on a project to estimate 2022 FY performance for Ivies and major US university endowments… weeks before official reports become available.

A smart Coinbase investment launched Duke into rare heights in FY 2021. We use MPI Stylus to estimate the size of Duke’s Coinbase position and its impact on this year’s results.

Haunted by the ghosts of 2009, Harvard endowment’s lower risk appetite still pays off with a 33.6% return.

Bowdoin College Endowment has been outperforming all Ivies on a 10-year basis since 2015 with its latest FY2021 result bringing it to 14.4%, an almost impossible number to beat.

UPenn’s $20.5 Billion endowment posted a return of 41.1% for FY 2021, driven by strong returns in private equity and venture capital.

Lessons (not) learned: our analysis shows Ivies are at pre-GFC levels of risk

For the second straight year, Brown outperformed all other Ivy endowments by a large margin. Our research team, using MPI Stylus Pro to dissect the endowment annual returns, provides a plausible explanation of the endowment’s spectacular results.

We take a quick look at Ivy schools’ endowments’ performance results both for the 2020 fiscal year and also long-term for 10-year periods.

Fiscal year 2019 was a curious year for the Ivy League endowments. In a year with strong returns in key private market investment classes, the average Ivy underperformed a traditional domestic balanced 60-40 portfolio in FY 2019. Ivies also experienced a wider dispersion of returns and saw a shift in the historical positioning of performance leaders and laggards.

The grades for all the Ivy League endowments are in – and they are rather disappointing. Save for Brown, all Ivies underperformed the 9.9% return of a domestic 60-40 portfolio in fiscal year 2019. The Ivy average in FY 2019 was 6.7%, significantly underperforming the 60-40 and reversing two years in which they outperformed the traditional domestic benchmark.