Governance and Policy

Commonfund Launches Diversity Office

Posted by Commonfund on Nov 15, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | People | Responsible Investing

Commonfund, a prominent asset manager for endowments, foundations and public pension investors, announced today the launch of its Diversity Office (“The Office”). By fostering an environment that values different perspectives, challenges conventional thinking and maximizes the potential of all employees, The Office...

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Viewpoint:
The Long of It

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Sep 17, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Endowments, like the organizations they support, are generally intended to operate in perpetuity. To accomplish this goal, those responsible for endowments—trustees or directors—make decisions based not on myopic thinking or daily machinations in the financial markets, but on the unique...

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Viewpoint: The Gift of (Relative) Calm

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Aug 16, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

The calamities known as the financial crisis and Great Recession are now a decade in the past. But far from fading into history, the memories remain fresh. And we are reminded of those days regularly (headline from a recent New York Times: “Biggest Banks Easily Pass Fed Stress Test").

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Inaugural Corporate Responsibility Report and 2018 Mid-Year Letter

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Commonfund on Jul 12, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy | Responsible Investing

We are pleased to share with you our inaugural Corporate Responsibility Report. Since our founding in 1971, Commonfund has pursued a singular mission – to enhance the financial resources of our clients by delivering exceptional performance, service and insight. Beyond our focus on investment excellence . . .

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Viewpoint:
Being Objective

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Feb 22, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Every year, the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE) reports new data—on investment returns, asset allocation, risk management, donations and gifts, and much more. But some data points are relatively static. In this Viewpoint we will dive deeper into long-term return objectives and the investment policies that support the objectives of the endowment.

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When Leaks Turn into Floods:
Challenges Facing Higher Education

Posted by Timothy T. Yates, Jr. on Jan 19, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy | Operating Assets | Outsourced Investing | Risk Management

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...

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Governance Best Practices: How Does Your Board Measure Up?

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jan 11, 2018

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Since our founding in 1971, a core element of the Commonfund mission has been to provide insights on a broad range of governance, policy and investment challenges. An engaged governing board is important in all environments – but perhaps no more so than today. Markets are at new highs, yet there remains much uncertainty – from the inevitable market correction to disruption of many nonprofit operating models to the impact of recently enacted tax law changes. As we start 2018, Commonfund Institute convened a panel of thought leaders to discuss current practices in nonprofit governance and offer ways for boards to bring best practices to their processes and deliberations. The discussion was moderated by John S. Griswold, Founding Director of the Institute. The three panelists were: Thomas K. Hyatt, partner in the Washington office of Dentons US LLPand co-chair of the firm’s U.S. Nonprofit Entities Practice. He is a Senior Fellow for Public Policy at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) and was recognized as Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer of the Year for 2017 by the American Bar Association. Robert B. Litterman, PhD., Chair of the Risk Committee and a founding partner of Kepos Capital, a New York City-based systematic global macro investment firm. In a 23-year career with Goldman Sachs he headed the firm’s risk management function and co-developed the Black-Litterman Global Asset Allocation Model, a mathematical model for portfolio allocation. He is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Commonfund, and serves on other boards, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. David Nygren, PhD., founder of Nygren Consulting and previously founding Senior Partner of the Corporate Governance Consulting Group at Mercer Delta Consulting. Formerly, he was Executive Vice President of DePaul University and has held teaching and research appointments at Harvard, Yale and Boston University. He has served on or chaired the boards of numerous organizations in education, health care and the arts.

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Tax Reform:
CPI Plus More

Posted by Sharad Samy, Keith Luke, Catherine Keating on Dec 19, 2017

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

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 nonprofit and public sector investors we serve. We focused on the Tax Act’s provisions, but also its wider goal of stimulating economic growth. We also attempted to discern the implicit preferences and philosophy of this first piece of major legislation from our nation’s 115th Congress, which is expected to be passed later this week, and its implications for public policy in the years ahead.

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

Posted by Sharad Samy, Keith Luke, Catherine Keating on Dec 4, 2017

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

As we approach the end of calendar year 2017, the passage of significant tax reform legislation – while far from certain – seems increasingly more likely. The Senate and the House versions, which vary in some substantive ways, must be reconciled before the President can sign a bill into law. What is certain is that if passed, the tax bill will have a broad impact for most filers – corporations, individuals and tax-exempt institutions, including colleges and universities, private foundations and public charities.

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Spending Policy: Is Yours Ready for the Next Downturn?

Posted by Timothy T. Yates, Jr. on Nov 7, 2017

Topic: Governance and Policy | Investment Strategy | Operating Assets | Outsourced Investing

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, to provide a stable. predictable and hopefully growing source of income to the institution that the long-term portfolio supports. Why the conflict? Because in order to generate returns that will sustain real purchasing power in perpetuity, the portfolio must be exposed to risk which often means volatility and thus potential instability or unpredictability in the income stream...

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