The endowment model, and active management in general, has come under increased scrutiny, while indexed, or passive, products have grown in popularity and number. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, it’s hard to deny that the Ivies approach to asset allocation has been very good.
Ivy League Endowments
“With $136 billion in assets and enviable access to exclusive investment opportunities, Ivy League universities have long boasted that their endowments earn higher returns than other investors. Not anymore. This year the 10-year returns achieved by the endowments for all the Ivy League schools lagged a plain-vanilla portfolio of stocks and bonds, according to a new study by Markov Processes International, which closely monitors the performance of Ivy League endowments. It’s the first time that has happened in the 16 years for which Markov has data on all the Ivy League endowments.” Read the full article here. (subscription required)
“Despite reporting strong returns for the second straight year, Ivy League university endowments have lagged behind a simple portfolio comprised of 60% stocks and 40% bonds over the past 10 years, according to a report from Markov Processes International. The report said that from fiscal year 2009 to 2018, a portfolio made up of 60% stocks and 40% fixed income had annualized returns of 8.1%. Meanwhile not even the top-performing Ivy League endowments beat this over the same time period as Columbia University and Princeton University’s endowments were a shade behind with annualized returns of 8.0% each.” Read the full article here.
“Helped along by one of the stock market’s best runs, a humble 60/40 stock-bond portfolio built from low-cost index funds would have outperformed all Ivy endowments for the past 10 years through July, according to the new report by investment researcher Markov Processes International.” Read the full article here.
“Ivy League endowments continued their strong performance in fiscal 2018 (ended June 30), with all but one registering double-digit returns and all beating a 60–40 U.S. stocks-and-bonds portfolio, the research and analytics firm Markov Processes International reported last week. However, for the first time in the 20 years of available Ivy endowment returns data, the 60–40 portfolio outpaced all Ivies in terms of 10-year performance. For 15- and 20-year performance, the Ivies still maintained an edge on the benchmark.” Read the full article here.
Similar to 2017 performance, this past fiscal year was a strong one for most Ivy League endowments. Fiscal year 2018 is noteworthy, however, for being the first year that long horizon (10-year) returns from all Ivy endowments lagged behind the 60-40 portfolio.
“There’s a tug of war going on in endowments, as well as in asset management,” said Jeff Schwartz, president of MPI. “A lot of people are hoping that there is no point in investing in these complex alternatives. Then you have devotees of the Yale model who want to show there is a payoff for putting so much of the portfolio into private equity, VC, and all the things we think of as sophisticated and expensive. This report shows that the reality is much more complex than either narrative.” Read the full article here.
“The Duke Endowment’s 2018 returns also beat the 8.4 percent gains that a typical 60-40 portfolio of S&P 500 stocks and aggregate bond index investment grade bonds would have returned in fiscal year 2018, according to Markov Processes International. The endowment’s growth also surpassed the S&P 500’s 10.8 percent growth over the same period.” Read the full article here.
“This year’s gains were driven by alternative investment strategies. Ivy League asset managers have been ramping up allocations to alternative asset classes in recent years in hopes of outperforming broad market indexes. “What we definitely see is that the funds that were highly exposed to private equity and venture capital did very well,” said Jeff Schwartz, president at MPI.” Read the full article here.
“According to investment research analysts Markov Processes International, the strong performance has been driven in large part by investments in private equity and venture capital, which have returned 18.7% and 18.3%, respectively, in fiscal 2018, compared to a 14.4% return for the S&P 500…. Markov estimated that private equity and venture capital contributed 8.3% and 3.3% of Yale’s 12.3% return for 2018, with other asset classes contributing only 0.8% of its annual return. The firm also estimated that private equity and venture capital contributed 5.2% and 3.2%, respectively, of Dartmouth’s 12.2% return; and 3.6% and 3.3%, respectively, of Harvard’s 10% return.” Read the full article here.