Endowment Investment Performance 2022: A Cautionary Taleby charles | Comments are closed
Know what you own, and know why you own it — Peter Lynch
These are “interesting times” for institutional investors. Covid and a market crash in 2020, stimulus frenzy and valuation-highs in 2021, war and the end of free money in 2022. Whew.
But despite the volatility, there’s nothing like a decade’s long bull market to fatten school coffers. Just about every endowment on balance is better off than it was a decade ago, as our ten-year return numbers show.
NACUBO and TIAA will have more to say on the matter in their online session this Thursday February 23rd at 2-3:30 ET as they showcase their annual semi-official endowment league tables.
We recruit chief investment officers and finance professionals for families and institutions, so our 2022 endowment performance tables focus on the individuals who manage the money.
Endowment investment heads are the ultimate long-term, strategic investors. They have an infinite investment horizon, a global playing field, and can invest in anything anywhere – within the broad policy limits set by their institution. Their performance is a bellwether for what’s prudent and possible.
We don’t mean to slight the thousands of bright, creative, and top-performing investment professionals at foundations, family offices, and Wall Street firms, but it’s difficult to extract meaningful data on compensation or performance from opaque sources. So, we go with what we can get.
In this report, we feature ten-year fiscal year-end 2022 investment returns for one hundred twenty-eight US and six Canadian institutions — the latest available.
We consider a ten-year span to be a rigorous and revealing measure of the strength of an institution’s oversight and long-term investment abilities, but we remind our readers that there’s much more to the story.
First the caveats
Keep in mind that the job of every CIO and investment staffer is to meet the objectives set by their board, not to beat Yale.
Every school has its own endowment payout rate and tolerance for risk and that’s what CIOs aim for. Some schools rely heavily on income, others place more weight on growing the principal.
We all love the league tables (well, most of us) but board members and administrators set the parameters for investment execution, and they are the ones to judge whether their goals are met.
Next. There is no one reporting standard for endowment performance and no institutional body to enforce a standard even if there was one.
Many schools report their numbers net of all costs including external management fees, internal office costs, and the endowment tax, but not all. Some report gross returns. Others subtract external management fees but not office costs or the endowment tax. Over a ten-year period that makes a difference.
Third,Read More »
U.S. Equities vs. Asian Unicorns, no contest!by charles | Comments are closed
Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king — Unknown
Michael Rosen, managing partner and CIO at Angeles Advisors in Santa Monica doesn’t think much of Karl Marx or the heavy hand of state intervention. In Mr. Rosen’s words “wealth derives from the value created by capitalism.” And no country does it better than America.
He argues in his latest quarterly investment letter, titled Kapitalismus, that the most important factor in investment success is return on capital. GDP growth, revenue growth, even growth in net income? All those factors contribute value, but ROC outweighs them all.
Given the data, U.S. pensions may want to rethink their asset allocations before they climb too far out on the “alternatives” limb.
Follow the money
Why? Let’s start with relative stock market performance. According to Mr. Rosen, “Since 1990 the return on capital for U.S. companies has always been positive and despite four recessions and four bear markets in that period, equities have risen 1,000 percent, with dividends reinvested bring the total cumulative return to over 2,000 percent.”
But how about those impressive Asian markets and China’s economic miracle? It depends on who you ask. Ray Dalio has been a China fan boy for years (Bridgewater manages about $5bn for CIC), however, Stratos Capital Partners, the late Scott Minerd, and even a few bold analysts at JPMorgan (until they recanted) consider the country uninvestable.
Mr. Rosen prefers to follow the money, i.e., equity returns. Since 1992, the year China was added to the MSCI indices, Asia economies ex-Japan have posted enviable GDP growth of 9.5 percent per annum (all percentages p.a.), corporate growth of 14.8 percent and earnings growth of 12.6 percent versus U.S. comparables of 4.5 percent, 6.5 percent, and 10 percent respectively.
But when it comes to stock prices, what share-holders actually earned on their investments, the story flips. Over the same thirty-year span “U.S. equities prices grew at twice the rate of Asian shares, 7.8 percent versus 3.7 percent in Asia ex-Japan while China, with blistering economic growth over 9 percent for thirty years – handed investors equity returns of minus 1.4 percent.”
Mr. Rosen gives two reasons for U.S. equity outperformance. First, “U.S. companies averaged a return on equity of 15 percent over the past 30 years, versus 11.2 percent in Asia ex-Japan.”
And second, Asian companies significantly diluted their earnings, averaging only 4.4 percent EPS since 1992 despite income growth of 12.6 percent. U.S. companies, by contrast, grew EPS at 8.2 percent, not far behind income growth of 10 percent.
Mr. Rosen’s conclusion? “Economic conditions matter, of course, but the competition to earn a high return on capital defines sustained success, [and equity performance] for companies and for countries.”
US pensions, late to the partyRead More »
Family office survival: nothing’s guaranteedby charles | Comments are closed
If you’re a great entrepreneur, you’re likely a pretty bad investor
Family office survival is no sure bet, according to Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer, co-founders of BanyanGlobal Advisors. In fact, family-owned companies have a better chance of managing succession than the family investment office. But wealth preservation has never been easy. For those founders facing the perils of passing on the legacy, Messrs. Baron and Lachenauer have a few suggestions that just might help.
Their September 2022 article in Harvard Business Review, Is Your Family Office Built for the Future, highlights internal office tensions, the lack of emotional connections among generations, and unintentional dependencies.
The authors argue that family office founders face five key decisions which determine success or failure. They are:
- Design: How will you own your assets together?
- Decide: How will you structure governance?
- Value: How will you define success for your family office?
- Inform: What will and what won’t you communicate with your family?
- Transfer: How will you handle the transition to the next generation?
Family office clout
It’s tough to get a handle on how many family offices there are in the US, the assets they control, or their objectives because most prefer to stay unnoticed. But no matter how you count them, they are a significant force for investment and philanthropy.
An oft-cited Campden Wealth study estimates roughly 3,100 large single-family offices in North America, 42 percent of the global 7,300.
Forbes reported in 2020 that the top fifty wealthiest US families alone were collectively worth about $1.2 trillion.
Casting a broader net, Credit Suisse counts about 140,000 ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the US with wealth over $50 million.
While endowments and foundations get most of the attention, the family office universe is larger, growing faster, and doing a great deal of good while doing well.
So, what’s on their minds?
Family dynamics, more than moneyRead More »
Family Office direct investing: the thrill is goneby charles | Comments are closed
No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else. — Bill Joy
Large family offices over $5 billion AUM with five or more years of experience running in-house direct investing programs now have the data to assess their efforts. From what we hear, for many families, it’s just not worth the effort.
Attribution studies conducted recently by a number of family office investment staffs conclude that they would have been better off buying an index.
Our clients and contacts cite three reasons for their disappointment, public market performance, high costs, and competition.
A few caveats. We usually provide data to back up our thesis, but in this case, due to the sensitivity of our sources (i.e., the career limiting nature of any disclosures), our comments will have to be anecdotal.
Also, the SFOs we spoke with on background regarding direct investing made their money from tech, energy, and manufacturing, not finance.
It’s tough to beat public markets
US equities set a particularly high hurdle for performance this past decade and over longer periods remain a hard mark to beat.
Here’s a snapshot of the S&P over the last twelve years along with some international peers.
(S&P 500 12-yr performance 2022)
Lamentably the stock market took a nasty fall this year after capping an extraordinary run in 2021, but for long term investors it’s hard not to embrace public equities.
Since 1945 the S&P increased on average about 11% annually, posting an inflation-adjusted return of 7.14% per year. More than enough to provide comfortable payouts for generations of happy heirs.
Read More »
Masters of the Universe, Fortune Tellers, and Fateby charles | Comments are closed
“We’ve long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good.” — Warren Buffett
Howard Marks sent out a memo last week – The Illusion of Knowledge – in which he ponders the value of economic forecasts. He concludes that they aren’t worth much to anyone but the forecasters.
As recruiters evaluating senior investment talent we wrestle with a comparable conundrum, how can we make informed judgements about candidates and their success in the future when our knowledge and intuition is based on the past?
Don’t get us wrong, we meet exceptional clients and candidates almost every day – smart successful families, board members, and professional investors at the top of their game.
But interviewing chief investment officers and up-and-comers is a bit like camping with Garrison Keillor at Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” We have yet to meet a candidate who hasn’t produced top quartile results.
Almost everyone is convinced they can pick superior managers and investments while the other guy rolls snake eyes. Active management is for heroes, indexing for geezers.
In our interviews for institutional and family office clients we often hear the comment that public markets are nearly impossible to beat, yet in the next breath they tell us their endowment or foundation team has consistently beaten public market benchmarks using active managers.
While we are impressed by their conviction, we wonder about their claims.
We’re in good company. Mr. Marks has also questioned the track records of active managers, at least those who place bets on macro trends. So he sourced a few Hedge Fund Research (HFR) performance metrics for guidance. This is what he found.
And remember, these are arguably some of the smartest guys and dolls on the Street.
HFs vs. S&P 5-year annualized return*
12.80% – S&P 500 Index
5.20% – HFRI Hedge Fund Index*
5.00% – HFRI Macro (Total) Index
HFs vs. S&P 10-year annualized return*
13.80% – S&P 500 Index
5.10% – HFRI Hedge Fund Index*
2.80% – HFRI Macro (Total) Index
*Performance through July 31, 2022. The broad hedge fund index shown is the Fund Weighted Composite Index.
You can’t beat Art History
The chart above focuses solely on hedge fund performance. Large endowments on the other hand, with AUM over one billion dollars, hold on average well over one hundred active managers across the investment spectrum, with some managing close to three-hundred funds (asset managers, commingled funds, and partnership interests, NACUBO Study 2019).Read More »