The CFA Society New York (CFANY) hosted the Endowment and Foundation Chief Investment Officer Roundtable on the evening of May 12th, 2016. The event was sold out with over 200 industry participants registered, a majority of whom were CFA charter holders and CFANY members. The event was attended by investment personnel and trustees of a majority of the Endowment and Foundations in the New York area which represented approximately $100 billion in direct endowment and foundation AUM oversight and over $300 billion in direct asset owner AUM oversight.
The Endowment and Foundation Chief Investment Officer Roundtable is the fourth highly fruitful and insightful discussion in the Asset Owner Series, after previous discussions featuring industry leaders representing Multi-Family Offices, Insurance Companies, and Single Family Offices. This Series has already hosted senior investment industry leader attendees and speakers who directly and collectively oversee north of $5 trillion in AUM.
Globally, Endowments cumulatively manage roughly $800 billion in AUM and Foundations oversee approximately $500 billion in AUM. The event brought together an excellent array of speakers, who collectively and directly manage roughly $15 billion. The conference began with a keynote from Brian O’Neil, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who is responsible for the foundation’s $10.2 billion investment portfolio. In his keynote, Mr. O’Neil started with discussing key things that make endowments and family offices different, such as, the fundamental point of view, lack of constraints driven by liabilities, strong governance and culture between investors. Mr. O’Neil further provided insights on asset allocation and risk/return trade-off. Questions from the audience included measurement of risk across the portfolio, private equity investments and penalty of holding cash.
The keynote followed a panel discussion featuring Colin G. Ambrose, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of UJA-Federation of New York’s Endowment and Retirement Plans, Michael Reist, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of Phillips Academy in Andover, and Jainen Thayer, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of Oberlin College. Anthony Thai, CFA, Senior Investment Officer at The Wallace Foundation, moderated the panel.
The panelists first provided a description of their individual firms and breakout across the different asset classes. They further elaborated on the strategic and tactical asset allocation and their approach to manager selection. All speakers pointed out the importance of four pillars as they look at potential managers: people, strategy, legal and organization. The discussion touched on emerging markets, and strong convictions across the speakers, as well as the importance of liquidity in the portfolio. Networking reception with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres closed the evening conference.
CFANY’s Asset Owner Series includes ten evening programs in 2016 featuring asset owner CIOs who collectively oversee roughly 10 trillion assets. The Series, which after four events have already hosted senior investment industry leader attendees and speakers who directly and collectively manage north of $5 trillion in AUM, will culminate with an Asset Manager CIO Roundtable featuring roughly 10 trillion in direct AUM oversight. According to OECD and World Pensions Council estimates, there is approximately $95 trillion in institutional investor (asset owner and asset manager) AUM globally. CFANY’s Asset Owner Series will feature industry leaders who collectively and directly oversee roughly $20 trillion in AUM or more than one-fifth of total institutional assets globally.