Commonfund Forum 2023: 5 Key Takeaways

February 22, 2023 |
2 minute read

Commonfund recently hosted its 25th annual Commonfund Forum in Boca Raton, Florida. The event, themed “Still We Rise”, brought together 500+ attendees representing institutions with almost $850 billion in endowed assets in a 2.5-day conference. Sessions explored the global economy, investment trends, and strategies to help institutions support their missions. More than 50 experts from investment firms, academia, public policy think tanks and major media outlets convened in general sessions, keynotes, and breakout sessions.  

Here are 5 Key Takeaways from Forum 2023 

  1. Higher for longerBill Dudley, former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY pointed out that current Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell is committed to, “not being like Miller, so he doesn’t need to be like Volcker.” Meaning, he is going to do everything he can to make sure that inflation is truly under control before loosening policy so as not to allow inflation to come roaring back and require the Fed to take measures that will be much more painful down the road. Investors need to embrace that rates will be higher for longer than they currently believe. 

  2. Uncertainty everywhere – Speakers across multiple sessions mostly agreed that a confluence of events have raised uncertainty to levels not seen in decades. From the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, strained U.S.-China relations, climate change and energy security, the rise of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, aging demographics, the list goes on and on. Expect the unexpected, brace for higher volatility, and trust in solid governance and policy practices to help your organization navigate through challenging times – still we rise! 

  3. Pockets of opportunity – In times of uncertainty, astute investors can find opportunities that often prove to be among the most rewarding, as others become overly risk-averse. Areas highlighted by Forum speakers this year included: private credit; value investing in Europe – in both public and private markets; mid-market private equity; venture capital – particularly the early days of blockchain technology; secondaries, and energy – both to meet today’s demand and to support the transition to cleaner sources.
  4. Inclusion drives innovation – Keynote speaker, Haben Girma, taught us that our assumptions about the limitations of disabled people are often the biggest impediment to them realizing their full potential. In fact, when we embrace inclusion and design systems and processes for both disabled and nondisabled people, it results in innovation that benefits us all. In addition, our panel of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) presidents provided insights into the evolution, current state, and future of their institutions. In an environment where there have been significant racial and social justice issues across the country, coupled with demographic changes and other challenges facing the higher education business model, these leaders described the critical work they are doing to invest in physical plant infrastructure, top-tier research capacity, and their ability to steward institutional resources for sustainability and growth. They spoke about their continued and steadfast commitment to matriculate, educate, graduate and create career pathways for African American and diverse first-generation students.  

  5. Protect and empower – Cybersecurity expert Rachel Wilson shared insights into the ever-growing threat cyber criminals and hackers pose to society and suggested tools and techniques to help protect ourselves and our organizations. Erica Dhawan, the world’s foremost expert in connectional intelligence, provided specific actions and tools that organizations can use to improve communications, breakdown silos, foster alignment and innovation in a world where remote work requires new ways of thinking and connecting. 

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Tony Ialeggio


Tony Ialeggio

Chief Marketing Officer

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