Investment Strategy

Private Credit Opportunities

Posted by James Meisner | Vincent Kravec, CFA, Associate Director, Fixed Income Strategies on Feb 8, 2017

Topic: Asset Allocation Fixed Income Investment Strategy

Much has been made of the challenges endowment, foundation and nonprofit investors face in achieving a CPI+ five percent return target. One way to improve the probability of attaining this goal is to take advantage of the so-called “liquidity premium.”

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Active vs. passive: There is no debate

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund on Jan 31, 2017

Topic: Asset Allocation Equities Fixed Income Investment Strategy Risk Management

Like King Kong vs. Godzilla, the investment debate of active vs. passive continues. I really enjoyed those cheesy old movies from Japan that pitted the two big monsters of science fiction. But as I recall, there was never a clear winner: Sometimes King Kong won the battle, sometimes Godzilla.

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Does Your Investment Policy Statement Account for Risk?

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jan 20, 2017

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

In the past, many investment policy statements gave relatively cursory treatment to risk, its quantification and its potential impact on the asset pool. Market collapses and credit crises demonstrated that many institutions’ portfolios carried unacknowledged risks, that their risk profiles in general were higher than they thought, and that the risk tolerance of their fiduciaries was lower than acknowledged. Today, then, it is entirely appropriate to put risk at the top of the process of investment policy development.

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Healthcare Endowment Management: 3 Questions to Consider

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jan 10, 2017

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

The healthcare business model is changing. Mounting cost pressures are forcing small and mid-sized nonprofit healthcare organizations to consider adopting endowment management practices similar to those used elsewhere in the nonprofit sector. In the face of declining reimbursement from insurance companies and governmental payers, nonprofit healthcare organizations are confronted with an unprecedented series of challenges.

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Year-End Letter & 2017 Investment Outlook

Posted by Catherine Keating, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonfund on Jan 3, 2017

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy

We would like to wish you the very best in the New Year, and we are pleased to share with you our year-end letter and comprehensive investment outlook for 2017. For a more detailed look at our expectations and portfolio positioning going forward, download our Year-End Letter and 2017 Investment Outlook | Thriving in a Diverging World.

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Taking Away the Punch Bowl

Posted by Michael Strauss, Chief Investment Strategist and Chief Economist | Ryan Driscoll, CFA, Director on Dec 19, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Market Commentary

A combination of better economic growth, including stronger labor conditions and signs of a bottoming in inflation, provided the Fed with an opportunity to restart the normalization process by raising short rates 25 basis points at the mid-December FOMC meeting in what “Fed-watchers” from decades ago might term “taking away the punchbowl just when the party is warming up”. . .

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Drafting Your Investment Policy Statement: 10 Critical Issues

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | John Griswold, Founder and Senior Advisor, Commonfund Institute on Dec 12, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

There is no single ‘right’ investment policy statement; each institution’s board must craft a statement that responds to the needs of the institution and the preferences and risk tolerances of the trustees. Annual review of the statement by the board can help to ensure...

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The Investment Policy Statement

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | John Griswold, Founder and Senior Advisor, Commonfund Institute on Dec 9, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

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 concrete terms the best thinking of the board of trustees about the investment pool, its goals and purposes; but it also needs to be sufficiently flexible to guide the board through environments that may be very different from those prevailing at the time of its adoption.

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Venture Capital – Looking Forward and Upward

Posted by Aaron Miller | Kent Scott, Managing Director, Commonfund on Dec 5, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Private Capital

Beginning in the second half of 2015, there was growing caution that started to impact pricing and investment activity in early 2016. This valuation cooling period and subsequent shift in mindset appears to have been brief and private valuations have generally held steady, particularly in early-stage. The market appears to be bifurcating where companies in large markets that are growing with attractive unit economies are able to close financings at high valuations while companies with average performance are experiencing protracted fundraisings at mixed valuations. As a result, we continue to see more money going into fewer and higher profile winners.

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A False Sense of Diversification?

Posted by David Scarozza on Nov 29, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Equities Investment Strategy

As we have undergone the process of re-underwriting all of Commonfund’s equity managers and funds over the last 6 months, we have tackled anew the age old question of how many funds does one multi-manager equity portfolio require to offer appropriate levels of diversification? While there is no single universally appropriate answer, our research has indicated that, upon closer inspection, many multi-manager equity portfolios may not be quite as diversified as intended from a potential excess return perspective.

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Commonfund Election Update: Missions and Markets

Posted by Catherine Keating, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonfund on Nov 11, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Market Commentary

Commonfund is a firm that marries mission and markets in a unique way. And so today we assess the implications of last night's Presidential election on our clients' nonprofit missions as well as on the markets that we invest in together. There were many headlines about markets today, but few about mission. Yet we think that this is an important moment for mission-based organizations.

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Quant Corner: Understanding Active Risk and Tracking Error

Posted by Jess Gaspar, PhD, Managing Director, Head of Quantitative Research on Nov 7, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Quant Strategies Risk Management

Investors frequently focus on the total return they experience in their portfolios. In periods when absolute returns are high, they feel good; in periods when absolute returns are low, they feel bad. Yet good performance and bad performance should not be evaluated in a vacuum, they should be evaluated relative to the risks undertaken in their portfolios.

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The Fiduciary Case for Carbon Exposure Management Now

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | Jess Gaspar, PhD, Managing Director, Head of Quantitative Research on Oct 18, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

The year 2015 featured a wealth of global warming headlines: the December Paris Agreement on climate change, the Pope’s Encyclical, the collapse of oil prices, the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, France’s mandatory carbon reporting and the New York Attorney General’s subpoena of Exxon Mobil. It was also the warmest year on record.

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Hedge Fund Strategies 2.0

Posted by Caroline Greer | Kristofer Kwait, Managing Director, Head of Hedge Fund Strategies on Oct 10, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Hedge Funds Investment Strategy

The old mantra of using hedge funds for downside protection and upside participation hasn't worked. During this webcast, we examine the why and the how of hedge funds - why invest in them and how to invest in them effectively within institutional portfolios.

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Real Estate – Rates, Rates, Rates

Posted by Paul Von Steenburg, Managing Director, Commonfund on Sep 30, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Real Estate

“There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location”. While the age-old adage still holds in many respects, real estate risks...

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It’s Not Easy Being Active

Posted by Mark Bennett, Managing Director, Commonfund on Aug 30, 2016

Topic: Equities Investment Strategy

It's not easy being an active equity manager these days. We’ve had the great financial crisis of 2007-2008, a technology/internet bubble in 1998-1999 culminating with a sharp and prolonged bear market from 2000-2002, and most recently the European crisis in 2011. What made 2016 worse than those prior periods? There is not one easy answer to that question, but a series of shifts in the investment landscape that deserve mentioning.

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Commonfund Roundup
07-29-16

Posted by Commonfund on Jul 29, 2016

Topic: Equities Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Market Commentary Responsible Investing

Commonfund's July Roundup features the Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: Foundations Survey and Press Release; a webcast on the FY2016 Equity Performance Review, hosted by Mark Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Kris Kwait, Head of Investments, and Keith Luke, President, Commonfund Securities, Inc.; along with the latest weekly economic podcasts by Chief Economist, Michael Strauss.

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Equity Performance Review: Fiscal Year 2016

Posted by Keith Luke | Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Kristofer Kwait, Managing Director, Head of Hedge Fund Strategies on Jul 21, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Equities Investment Strategy

Our latest webcast reviews equity performance for fiscal year 2016 and the positioning for the portfolio going forward.

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Responsible Investing Study of Foundations Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing was issued jointly today by the two representative organizations. The study, believed to be the most comprehensive and detailed to date on the topic among private and public foundations, analyzed the policies, practices and attitudes with respect to responsible investing among 186 U.S. private and public/community foundations representing a total of $39.7 billion in endowment assets as of December 31, 2014.

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Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: Foundations Survey

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Commonfund Institute and The Council on Foundations survey builds upon the 2014 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) by delving in to responsible investing practices, policies and portfolio strategies.

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Integration of ESG Factors in Practical Steps

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jul 1, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

In the current climate of slow global economic growth and resource constraints at many institutions, integration of ESG considerations in an organization’s investment portfolio may be perceived as a luxury or an unacceptable distraction. ESG implementation does not, however, need to be an all or-nothing decision. A sliding scale of engagement is available for institutions that decide to explore ESG...

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Commonfund Roundup
06-29-16

Posted by Commonfund on Jun 29, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Market Commentary Responsible Investing Risk Management

In this month’s Commonfund Roundup, active management and risk are leading topics. Featured articles include: an interview in Institutional Investor with CEO, Catherine Keating, where she discusses the active-versus-passive debate and more; and “Active Management Fatigue and What to Do About it,” co-authored by Kristofer Kwait, Head of Investments; Jess Gaspar, Head of Asset Allocation and Research; and John Delano, Head of Analytics. Also included, the new white paper, "Striking the Balance: A Fiduciary Approach to Risk and the Investment Policy"; the latest weekly economic podcasts and more.

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Brexit: Order from Disorder

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Michael Strauss, Chief Investment Strategist and Chief Economist on Jun 24, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Market Commentary

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) has sent shock waves through the capital markets throughout the day today. The 52%/48% vote to leave the EU was a significant surprise, as most polls had the “remain” camp winning.

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Active Management Fatigue and What to Do About It

Posted by Kristofer Kwait, Managing Director, Head of Hedge Fund Strategies | John Delano, Director, Hedge Fund Strategies Group, Commonfund | Jess Gaspar, PhD, Managing Director, Head of Quantitative Research on Jun 14, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy

Active management has struggled for several years, raising questions about whether active management can ever outperform again. Traditional active manager style tilts, like value and size, have detracted from performance in recent periods. Over the long run, these tilts tend to mean revert around positive trends, creating reasons to be optimistic about active management’s prospects. On the other hand, only 30 percent of managers truly deliver positive alpha after controlling for typical active management style tilts.

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Responsible Investing for Foundations

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jun 13, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Commonfund and Council on Foundations are thrilled to announce the release of the 2016 Council on Foundations – Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing. It is the largest and most detailed survey to date on practices, policies and attitudes relating to socially-responsible investing (SRI), environmental, social and governance integration (ESG) and impact or mission-related investing (MRI) among U.S. private and public founda­tions. The Study encompasses both the policies of foundations that have adopted any of the responsible investing practices listed and the attitudes toward responsible investing of those that have not.

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Catherine Keating speaks with Institutional Investor

Posted by Institutional Investor on Jun 10, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Market Commentary

Catherine Keating sits down with Institutional Investor to discuss the investment edge for nonprofits in a low-interest-rate environment and the active-versus-passive debate.

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What’s Next for Cash Investors?

Posted by Barbara Novick | Richard Aks | Michael Strauss, Chief Investment Strategist and Chief Economist | Jon Speare on Jun 7, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Market Commentary Operating Assets

In the static low-rate environment of recent years, it seemed as though there was no “what’s next” for cash. Today, that has changed, as there are major forces reshaping the regulatory and interest rate regimes.

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Common Concerns about Responsible Investing

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jun 6, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy 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 and they influence portfolios in different ways. Many institutions have concerns about whether and how to apply ESG investing practices to their portfolio. These reservations stem partly from their past experience with SRI and partly because ESG investing has only recently become more widespread. While there are many concerns about responsible investing, the most common concerns...

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Risk and Investment Policy Approaches

Posted by Brett Lane, Managing Director | Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | Dana Moreau, Chief Risk Officer, Commonfund on Jun 1, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Risk Management

Our new whitepaper, Striking the Balance, challenges the traditional risk/return paradigm. Listen to our webcast hosted by Brett Lane for an overview from Bill Jarvis, Executive Director of Commonfund Institute on the key findings from the paper and our Chief Risk Officer, Dana Moreau on a risk-based investment structure.

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Operating Charity Implements Risk-Based Investment Policy

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on May 31, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

Operating charity in the Northeast is in the process of implementing a risk-based investment policy for its $30 million endowment. The seven-member investment committee is comprised of individuals with experience at leading securities and investment firms. In drafting its IPS, the committee created a separate section entitled "Risk Tolerance"...

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Striking the Balance: A Fiduciary Approach to Risk and Investment Policy

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 31, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Risk Management

In formulating an investment policy, fiduciaries frequently treat risk as an output of portfolio construction and asset allocation processes, giving priority to return objectives. Fiduciaries would do better to acknowledge risk as a primary input which guides and constrains those charged with institutional governance and investment policy formulation. Download this paper to help determine practical methods to assign risk when formulating an investment policy for your institution.

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Time to Temper Interest Rate Risk in Operating Portfolios

Posted by Michael Strauss, Chief Investment Strategist and Chief Economist | Jon Speare on May 25, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Market Commentary Operating Assets

Given the changing tone coming from Fed officials the last two weeks and the latest FOMC minutes, it appears that our monetary policy leaders are looking for an opportunity to restart the normalization process for short rates. As we highlight in our latest web commentary “When Doves Change Their Feathers”, Fed officials are trying to correct the financial market’s assessment of the most likely path for monetary policy.

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Carbon and Investment Implications for Fiduciaries

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Jess Gaspar, PhD, Managing Director, Head of Quantitative Research | Catherine Keating, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonfund on May 23, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy

Commonfund Xchange Webcast | Carbon and Investment Implications for Fiduciaries

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Betting on the Megatrends:
Thematic Investing

Posted by Commonfund on May 23, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy People

Commonfund President and CEO Catherine Keating was a panelist at the 19th annual Milken Institute Global Conference on May 2, 2016. The panel was entitled, “Thematic Investing and Portfolio Strategies: Betting on the Megatrends”.

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Thematic Investing:
Betting on the Megatrends

Posted by Milken Institute on May 23, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy People

View Commonfund President and CEO Catherine Keating on a panel entitled, “Thematic Investing and Portfolio Strategies: Betting on the Megatrends” at the 19th annual Milken Institute Global Conference on May 2, 2016. The panel was moderated by Stephen Foley, U.S. Investment Correspondent of the Financial Times, and included an impressive group of asset management thought leaders...

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Is Value Investing Dead?

Posted by AJO Partners on May 20, 2016

Topic: Equities Investment Strategy Market Commentary

AJO Partners' Jocelin Reed explores the current debate about value investing in a thoughtful manner, uncovering sector biases that exist with style investing. Is Value Investing Dead? We think not, but it might seem so. In fact, we observe a bizarrely large influence of sectors (versus stocks) in the latest value/growth regime.

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Deciding on an OCIO Provider: Three Factors to Consider

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on May 17, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Outsourced Investing

One of the most important aspects of the success of an organization’s OCIO model is defining the respective roles and responsibilities of the institution’s board, staff, investment committee and the outsourced CIO. Investment committees should think carefully about the institution’s ultimate goals in order to articulate objectives that are understandable and clear.

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Ideas for Next Gen Energy Investing

Posted by Ethan Levine | Stuart Ames, Managing Director, Commonfund Strategic Solutions | Phil Deutch | Robert Armstrong on May 17, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Advances in alternative energy technologies promise to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Largely, however, they remain just that—a promise. So, where are the opportunities to invest in the evolving energy environment? At Commonfund Forum 2016, a panel discussion took on this question.

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Defining Investment Success for Endowments and Foundations

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on May 16, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

William Jarvis of the Commonfund Institute explains how the investment horizons and objectives are different for endowments and foundations as opposed to retail investors. He highlights the tax exempt status of these organizations as one of the biggest drivers of investment philosophy.

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Unhedged Commentary:
The $3 Trillion Question

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Ryan Driscoll, CFA, Director on May 5, 2016

Topic: Hedge Funds Investment Strategy

The growth of the hedge fund industry over the past decade has been tremendous, with more and more institutional and retail investors allocating capital to investment strategies that fall outside the boundaries of traditional stock and bond funds.

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Investment Management
Principle 5: Risk Management

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 3, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #5: Risk Management. Risk can be defined broadly as anything that can result in the objectives of the portfolio not being met. The process of risk management seeks to enable fiduciaries to make the best possible investment decisions in the face of uncertainty and to maximize the likelihood that your portfolio objectives will be achieved.

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The Big Picture: Integrating Investments, Finance and Development

Posted by Beppie Huidekoper | Lyndon Tefft | Roger Goodman | George Mateyo on May 3, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

Most things function a lot better when all the moving parts work together—nonprofit institutions included. The synergies afforded by collaboration across organizational boundaries may be the most underutilized way to leverage your organization’s resources.

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Asset Allocation with Private Equity

Posted by Commonfund on May 2, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Private Capital

Private assets such as private equity and venture capital have long been a thorn in the side of asset allocators and chief investment officers. Their lack of liquidity makes it hard to model their return streams as an input to an asset allocation model, risk budget, or optimization function. Typically, asset allocators make assumptions based more on intuition and expectation than fact.

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Shaping the Future of Responsible Investment

Posted by Commonfund on Apr 27, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy People Responsible Investing

Commonfund CEO and President Catherine Keating was a panelist at the PRI 10-year Anniversary Conference & Dinner in New York City. The panel, entitled “Is responsible investment ready to impact the world?” was moderated by Michael Wursthorn, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal.

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How Do You Get to Nine Percent?

Posted by Alec Rapaport, Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income Strategies | Vincent Kravec, CFA, Associate Director, Fixed Income Strategies on Apr 25, 2016

Topic: Fixed Income Investment Strategy

For much of the first quarter, U.S. below-investment grade corporate bond indices reported yields that exceeded 9 percent, leading to spreads, or additional yield to comparable Treasuries, in excess of 7 ½ percent. Even after the substantial rally in risk assets during March, yields were reported greater than 8 percent with average spreads north of 7 percent. Currently well above long run historical averages, spreads seemingly more than compensated investors for the inherent credit and liquidity risk in high yield bonds. Sounds great, I’ll take it! Or should I?

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Investment Management
Principle 4: Manager Selection

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Apr 22, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #4: Manager Selection. In the past trustees did the investing themselves or assigned the task to one or two all-purpose managers. During the last three decades, that model has been superseded by one in which fiduciaries delegate management of the portfolio to a variety of specialized investment managers, seeking those with a demonstrated record of exceeding their benchmarks.

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Emerging Markets

Posted by Tim Yates, Managing Director, Commonfund | Jireh Li on Apr 21, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Private Capital

Notwithstanding the recent rally in several emerging markets, there has been no shortage of challenging headlines emanating from the region over the past year. While China has not experienced a “hard landing”, growth continues to moderate and it has encountered challenges in its economic rebalancing. China’s public stock market, largely dominated by state-run enterprises, dropped precipitously after a meteoric rise over the past 18 months. Latin America is challenged by a deep recession in Brazil that has been complicated by significant political uncertainty and high probability that the current President does not finish her term. Africa is mixed as a strong U.S. dollar has had a positive impact on exporting countries; however the continent is not immune from declining currencies or the fall of commodity prices.

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What is Outsourced Investment Management?

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Apr 14, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Outsourced Investing

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 can help institutions with both large and small asset pools to address portfolio complexity and risk management challenges.

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Emerging Markets:
Balancing Risk and Reward

Posted by Dana Moreau, Chief Risk Officer, Commonfund | Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large, Fortune Magazine | Cate Ambrose, President and Executive Director, Latin American Private Equity and Venture Capital Association | Kun Deng, Managing Director, Lazard Asset Management | Jui Tan, General Partner, BlueRun Ventures China on Apr 13, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

Investors poured $2 trillion into emerging economies between 2009 and 2014. Then prices for a basket of commodities fell—dragging crude oil down to levels not seen in a decade and dashing investors’ hopes at the same time. What now?

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Investment Management
Principle 3: Asset Allocation

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Apr 7, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #3: Asset Allocation. Arguably one of the most important investment-related decisions, asset allocation will largely determine the level of risk-adjusted return you are seeking. A key responsibility of the governing board, your strategic asset allocation policy will set the course for investing the fund for many years to come. But determining an optimal asset allocation for your institution’s portfolio involves more than numbers.

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Is Currency an Asset Class?

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund on Mar 29, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Risk Management

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 the difference in the return to an unhedged portfolio position versus that portfolio position hedged back to the investor’s domestic currency. So simple to measure, yet so difficult to figure out.

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Rethinking Risk and Diversification

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Catherine Keating, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonfund | Bruce Zimmerman, CEO and CIO, University of Texas Investment Management Company and Commonfund Trustee on Mar 23, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

Asset allocation is still the foundation on which better risk-adjusted returns are built. But asset allocation has changed, along with all the associated tools for pursuing return and managing risk. Have you kept up?

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Xchange Webcast: Risk, Return and Volatility

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund | Brett Lane, Managing Director on Mar 22, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Equities Fixed Income Investment Strategy Market Commentary Risk Management

Xchange Webcast: Risk, Return and Volatility with Chief Investment Officer Mark Anson

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Investment Management
Principle 2: Payout Policy

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 17, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #2: Payout Policy. Determining how much of the fund can be transferred each year to the operating budget or to designated beneficiaries while still maintaining the fund's ability to support its mission in the future.

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Investment Management
Principle 1: Objectives

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 11, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

The responsibilities of those charged with oversight of a long-term investment fund such as an educational, religious or charitable endowment, foundation, hospital asset pool or pension fund differ fundamentally from those of other investment fiduciaries. The differences arise primarily from the nature of these funds’ beneficiaries. In this 7-part series, we’re going to discuss key issues and essential principles of investment management. We’ll start with Principle #1: Objectives.

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On Narrow Markets and Smart Beta

Posted by Mark Bennett, Managing Director, Commonfund on Feb 28, 2016

Topic: Equities Investment Strategy Market Commentary

We’ve all heard a manager complain about narrow markets. We are guilty of it ourselves. What is a narrow market and how do we view it in the context of recent equity performance?

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Happy New Year!
(Chinese New Year, That Is!)

Posted by Mark J.P. Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Commonfund on Feb 11, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Market Commentary

The Chinese New Year began in February and this year it is the “Year of the Monkey.” Now, monkeys are well known for being unpredictable and mischievous animals, full of playfulness and hijinks. In fact, it is their mischievous nature that is responsible for the saying “throwing a monkey wrench” into an otherwise smooth operating process. Indeed, it seems as if a monkey wrench has been thrown into the global equity markets in 2016.

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Size: It’s Complicated

Posted by Kristofer Kwait, Managing Director, Head of Hedge Fund Strategies | John Delano, Director, Hedge Fund Strategies Group, Commonfund on Jan 14, 2016

Topic: Hedge Funds Investment Strategy

AUM among hedge funds has always been characteristically top-heavy, with the majority of capital in the hands of a relatively small number of managers. While the hedge fund universe has expanded from a few hundred in the mid-1990s to several thousand today, investors have voted in large numbers for what amounts to a handful of those managers.

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Commonfund’s Guide to Outsourcing

Posted by Brett Lane, Managing Director on Mar 17, 2015

Topic: Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Outsourced Investing

Commonfund’s Guide to Outsourcing

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Assessing Your Board’s Risk Tolerance

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | John Griswold, Founder and Senior Advisor, Commonfund Institute on Jun 2, 2014

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Risk Management

In the wake of the financial crisis, trustees of many endowed nonprofit institutions realized that their portfolio was riskier than they thought and their own ability to tolerate loss wasn’t as strong as they imagined. What can board and investment committee members do to improve their ability to assess their risk tolerance?

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Viewpoint: A Different Kind of Climate Change

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Nov 12, 2013

Topic: Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

While operating charities entered the financial crisis with asset allocations that reflected their priorities and preferences at the time — and that were, in many respects, remarkably similar across the three categories of institution — the ensuing seven-year period has seen continual evolution and differentiation, with the result that these organizations, while they have moved in the same general direction of increased diversification, have done so in ways that reflect their own institutional preferences and priorities.

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6 keys to choosing the right outsourced CIO

Posted by Sarah Clark, Managing Director, Head of Commonfund Strategic Solutions Group on Aug 12, 2013

Topic: Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Outsourced Investing

Not long ago, the definition and scope of an “Outsourced CIO” (or OCIO) was narrowly defined. It generally meant investment management—a traditional consulting model in which the process of interviewing managers was delegated to an outside provider. Over time, however, as institutions’ internal staffs have been reduced and stretched, the definition of the model has expanded and evolved in kind. While OCIO was once regarded as merely an investment advisory function, it now can be about a total partnership that delves into deeper issues than an institution’s investment portfolio.

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Endowment Spending: A Look Back

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Sep 1, 2012

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy

Market volatility has severely tested many nonprofit institutions, causing them to revisit their endowment spending practices. In this paper, Fred Rogers, Vice President and Treasurer of Carleton College, analyzes the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® findings and provides a brief primer on endowment spending, budgeting and accounting practices at institutions of higher education.

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