Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

A Financial Framework for the COVID Crisis

Despite the fall semester looking much better than the worst-case scenarios contemplated in early summer, higher education in America continues to grapple with the enormous challenges that the...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Balancing Risk and Return

Risk surrounds us, and for investment fiduciaries it is inescapable if meaningful real returns are to be sought. While risk and return constitute the axes upon which investment portfolios are built,...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Tactical Allocation: Winning Strategy or a Fool’s Game?

Institutional investors overseeing long-term pools of capital typically define their strategic asset allocation with specific targets and bands or ranges around those targets, which allow for...
Risk Management | Insights Blog

Risk Management and Operations: 5 Takeaways from Commonfund Forum 2019

The majority of investors’ attention is often focused on the performance of the funds or managers in their portfolio.  And rightfully so.  The numbers that appear on statements month after month will...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Equity Portfolio Construction – Through a Risk Factor Lens

At Commonfund, we aim to build multi-manager, active risk equity portfolios with a clear objective of consistent outperformance versus passive policy benchmarks. Our approach is to take intentional...
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

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...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

How Much Beta is in Your Equity Portfolio?

Leveling the Field in the “Tug of War” Between Active and Passive… Active Equity Manager Universal Objective: Outperform the Passive Alternative It’s undeniable that every active equity manager’s...
Risk Management | Insights Blog

WannaCry? WannaRun, WannaHide! Managing Cybersecurity Risk

Over the last year there has been no shortage of things to keep investors, asset managers, and risk managers concerned. Despite these exogenous shocks most equity markets have continued to shake off...
Investment Strategy | Articles

The Misperception of Illiquid Investments

With many market participants expecting low nominal returns across traditional asset classes in the coming years, the challenge of structuring a portfolio to achieve CPI +5%, or long-term purchasing...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

What do the Cable Television and Hedge Fund Industries Have in Common?

These industries may seem an odd pairing, but both are in the midst of a disruption-led, industry-wide rationalization process. The two industries share in common a historically evolved “bundling”...
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...
Outsourced CIO | Insights Blog

Top Ten Risks for Practicing CIOs

A Chief Investment Officer’s primary responsibility is to identify and clearly communicate his/her portfolio’s risks to his/her Board, Investment Committee and/or client(s).  About eighteen months...
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

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...
Risk Management | Insights Blog

The Curious Case of Risk Exposures in Diversified Portfolios

Our research at Commonfund has found that a 70/30 stock/bond portfolio  has north of 99 percent of its risk, as measured by standard deviation, allocated to equities. Thus, portfolio risk typically...
Risk Management | Insights Blog

Defining Risk For Your Organization

Merriam-Webster’s defines risk as the “possibility of loss or injury.” The financial profession — borrowing from Modern Portfolio Theory — uses the standard deviation of a portfolio’s returns to...
Risk Management | Articles

Greenhouse Effect

Investment returns of less well-diversified portfolios have flourished in the accommodative market environment created by central banks. But what will happen when rates rise? In the last five years,...
Risk Management | Articles

Risk: The Fuel that Generates Portfolio Returns

Risk management: the process of harnessing risk in pursuit of better investment returns In a broad sense, how should nonprofit institutional investors think about investment risk and risk management?...