governance and policy | Insights Blog

Observations on Diverse Manager Selection Across Asset Classes

At Commonfund, we believe diverse managers offer clients access to investment talent and valuable investment opportunities and therefore should be explored and invested in. Overlooking the merits of...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Stewardship During This Crisis: Five Things for Boards to Consider

As the world continues to grapple with the social, economic, and public health implications of the current COVID-19 crisis, nonprofit organizations and their boards are working tirelessly to...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Five Key Points of the Investment Policy Statement

The central document guiding the management of a nonprofit institution’s endowment—essentially, the strategic plan of the investment committee—is the investment policy statement (IPS). The IPS should...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

10 Tips for Stewarding People Remotely

Six key words – Purpose, Policy, Process, Portfolio, People, and Perspective – form a framework for effective endowment stewardship. As trustees, investment committee members, and senior management...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Purpose: What is an Endowment?

A critically important asset for many nonprofit organizations is their endowment, sometimes referred to by a different name such as long-term investment fund. So important is this pool of financial...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Traits of High-performing Boards … and Steps Toward Becoming One

Tom Hyatt is a partner in the Washington. D.C. law firm of Dentons US LLP and an authority on nonprofit governance. This blog is excerpted from a presentation he made recently at the Commonfund...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Back to Basics: The ABCs of Governance

Tom Hyatt is a partner in the Washington. D.C. law firm of Dentons US LLP and an authority on nonprofit governance. This blog is excerpted from a presentation he made recently at the Commonfund...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

The 5 Top Stewardship Imperatives

Christopher K. Merker, PhD, CFA, is a financial advisor and director of Private Asset Management at Robert W. Baird & Co. and an adjunct professor at Marquette University. He is also the co-author of...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Higher Education: Philanthropy is an Adjunct, Sensible Public Policy Deserves Tenure

In the last few months, high profile nonprofit institutions have come under intense scrutiny for ethical dilemmas pertaining to the stewardship of resources meant to support mission. This is Part...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

What’s in the Data? HEPI 2018 Highlights

Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) data show that inflation for colleges and universities was 2.8 percent for fiscal year 2018, a decline from last year’s 3.3 percent but higher than the...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

The Four P’s of Investment Decisions: Lessons from the Commonfund Institute

Three days after becoming Executive Director of the Commonfund Institute, I found myself at Yale University in New Haven giving welcoming remarks at our annual educational program.  Although I will...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

When Leaks Turn into Floods: Challenges Facing Higher Education

2017’s tax legislation is the latest in a growing list of challenges facing higher education. The new excise taxes on endowment earnings of the largest private universities, coupled with the...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Tax Reform: CPI Plus More

It was another taxing weekend (literally) at Commonfund as we digested 1,097 pages of the conference agreement for the tax reform bill (the “Tax Act”) and its implications for our country and for the...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

The Tax Man Cometh (And Not Just for the Ivies)

UPDATE: Since this blog was published there have been further developments related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Please see our post Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: CPI Plus More for our latest thinking....
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Spending Policy: Is Yours Ready for the Next Downturn?

In most Investment Policy Statements there is often a reference to two important, but conflicting, objectives: one, to preserve the purchasing power of the long-term portfolio in real terms, and two,...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

On Complacency | Why Risk Management Always Matters

Like nearly everything in the financial markets, risk is cyclical.  History repeats itself.  The echoes of past crises are always heard in present ones, yet new crises are rarely predicted and not...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Does Your Investment Policy Statement Account for Risk?

Successful investing for long-term funds requires a strategic plan. This is true despite – indeed, because of – the fact that the future is unknowable. The plan must be specific, embodying in...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Drafting Your Investment Policy Statement: 10 Critical Issues

Endowed institutions differ in their missions, capabilities and resources, and investment policy statements naturally mirror these differences.  In that sense, there is no single ‘right’ investment...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

How Does Board Structure Affect Performance?

The structure of a board has an important influence on its effectiveness, and being cognizant of these matters is essential to improving a board’s performance. In this article, we’ll discuss four...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Fiduciary Responsibility: A Board’s Purpose and Roles

Excellent boards are made, not born. Achieving excellence in board governance requires success in four crucial areas: capable leadership, a sound organizational structure, attention to fiduciary...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Where Did Our Operating Income Go?

Treasury managers face a new challenge to an old problem. Their institutions historically have relied on operating investment income to provide a necessary influx to operating budgets. Prior to 2008,...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Five Laws that Led to Uniformity in Nonprofit Governance

With each state having its own court system, uniformity among the states did not exist. While there was agreement on basic common-law trust principles, variations still emerged. As the American...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

A Framework for Nonprofit Governance

Two important laws enacted in the last 15 years have had an impact far beyond the intent of their original authors, causing major, if little-noticed, changes in nonprofit governance. The...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Bridging the Gap: Carbon and Fiduciary Responsibility

Most institutional investor discussions and actions regarding global warming have been at two ends of the spectrum: either divest from fossil fuels entirely or remain fully invested. A better...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Common Concerns about Responsible Investing

Discussions about whether responsible investing strategies help or hurt investment performance are complicated by the fact that, there are several broad categories of responsible investing practice...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Operating Charity Implements a Risk-Based Investment Policy

An operating charity in the Northeast is in the process of implementing a risk-based investment policy for its $30 million endowment. The organization’s seven-member Investment Committee includes...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

What is an OCIO?

Outsourced investment management, once primarily a solution for small institutions with limited resources, is now used by a broad range of long-term investors. When properly implemented, outsourcing...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Is Currency an Asset Class?

Currency risk can best be described as the surprise impact that currency exposure has on an investment portfolio. Although currency risk typically confounds investors, it is easy to measure – it is...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Six Key Questions To Ask OCIO Providers

“Outsourced CIO” (or OCIO) is a term that might not be familiar to many. In the past it has been defined as a traditional consulting model in which the process of interviewing potential investment...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

New Environmental Regulations and the Impact on Fiduciaries

Developments in world financial markets seem to occur more quickly every year, requiring ever-higher levels of expertise and experience on the part of investment committees. Climate change is a more...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Calculating Investment Management Costs

The following methodology may be of use in helping you to understand more fully what your organization pays for investment management costs. Identify the fees you pay at the overall portfolio level...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

Impact Investing

Recently, Commonfund convened an expert panel of investment managers to hold  a roundtable discussion and take a closer look at the different impact investing strategies being implemented today. The...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

ESG: What is it?

Generally speaking, Environmental Social and Governance, or ESG for short, is used to describe a group of characteristics that can have a material impact on the long-term success of a company and,...
governance and policy | Insights Blog

10 Point Checklist to Get Governance Right

The regulatory and legislative landscape continues to become more rigorous for nonprofit organizations. In an atmosphere of increasing calls for accountability, boards and senior staff need to take...