Yes, I’m paranoid–but am I paranoid enough? ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

While working on the “Skorina Letter” subscriber database last weekend, I came across an email address that gave me pause.  A vague recollection.  Something about the Maddox Foundation and a scandal regarding contested use of foundation assets?

Sure enough, turns out the case caused quite a stir a few years back and the intrepid team at the Magnolia Tribune diligently shared with their fellow Mississippians the mounting allegations and disclosures, including some rather salacious revelations thanks to the unsealed deposition of a former employee.

Nonprofit World’s more restrained report on the drama, “One Foundation’s Legal Battle: A Cautionary Tale for All Nonprofits,” added context and a few words of wisdom for their nonprofit readers.

The combatants included Ms. Robin Costa, former secretary and treasurer of the foundation who became, upon the Maddoxes’ untimely death, president and arbiter of the foundation’s one-hundred-million-dollar bequest, a battalion of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and witnesses, one state district attorney general, and a former Mississippi governor.

Litigation raged across state lines with accusations of gross mismanagement, high living, and double-dealing hurled back and forth among the adversaries.

It’s probably best to let the Magnolia team take it from here.  (See the above links and one more Magnolia item here.)  But in the end, the foundation clawed back about half the assets.

The moral of the tale?  When it comes to money, there are very few saints. There are good reasons for strict board governance, robust financial controls, and established public disclosures.

Which brings us once again to the subject of professional money management.  If you can afford to fund and build an internal investment team and layer on the checks and balances, that’s great.  We’re here to help.

But once donors set up a foundation or endowment it can get complicated, as the Maddox case illustrates.

The outsourced chief investment officer industry is growing for a reason, cost-effective available professional investment management with institutional grade controls and processes, and third-party fiduciaries with watchful eyes on the money.

As we wrote last week in our OCIO summer update, most nonprofits and families (basically anyone under $500 million in investable assets) just don’t have the time or resources to build competitive and secure internal investment capabilities.  The OCIO solution is an effective alternative.

— Charles Skorina

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The best way to predict the future is to create it.Unknown

Our summer 2023 Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) update features 101 firms, each with a designated contact individual and helpful hints to reach them: name, title, email, and phone number.  It’s the most comprehensive, accurate, and accessible available.

Our goal is to help families and institutions locate, review, and connect with full-service discretionary outsource investment managers.  As Henry Kissinger supposedly quipped when pondering a question on European leadership, “If you want to speak with Europe who do you call?”

The companies on our list care deeply about their customers.  Our directory makes it easy for prospective clients to reach them.

Holding On

For the year ending December 31st, 2022, OCIO providers managed to hold the line against volatile financial markets and investment headwinds, our new era of uncertainty to quote McKinsey.

Despite the Nasdaq losing a third of its value, 33%, the Russell 3000 down by 20.48%, the S&P 500 off 20%, and the Dow shedding 9%, total outsourced assets on our list dipped a tenable 9.5%, or $356 billion to $3.4 trillion.

It’s not all Strum und Drang, however, both Cerulli Associates’ OCIO Survey 2022 and Capgemini’s Wealth Management Top Trends 2023 expect healthy demand for OCIO services in the years to come.

According to Capgemini, “The growing complexity of assets, the necessity to adjust to volatile markets and uncertainties, access to experts, and shrinking investment management costs will heighten the profile of OCIOs.”

This is a common refrain from clients and contacts.  It’s expensive to support an institutional grade full-service asset management platform and it will only get worse.  Costs are climbing for infrastructure, cyber-security, regulatory audits and compliance, and access to liquid and alternative products and managers.

Given these challenges, there are only three ways most wealth and institutional money managers will grow — buy, sell, or merge.

This is just as true, by the way, for RIAs, which explains why so many are snuggling up to better resourced competitors.  Echelon Partners 2022 RIA M&A Deal Report tracked 340 announced transactions in 2022 alone, the tenth straight year of record acquisitions

The Gang of Eight

At year end 2022 eight firms – Mercer, BlackRock, Russell Investments, Goldman Sachs, SEI, AON, SSGA, and WTW – managed about 52% of the total AUM on our list.  These eight providers with their size and resources dominate the largest segment, corporate pensions.

But the corporate defined benefit business is a land unto its own, actuarial, regulated, and liability driven, with big-ticket AUM on offer, $1.78 trillion among the top 100 US plans.  In 2022, for example, BlackRock added $56 billion worth of new business from just two accounts, the $14 billion General Dynamics pension and the $42 billion Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.

Eight largest OCIOs by AUM

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