When More is Less: Investment Lessons from U.S. Endowments

The endowment style of investing has been widely emulated not only by endowments, but also by other kinds of institutional investors and private wealth managers. This paper explores research on the investment performance of U.S. endowments. It finds that, in aggregate, U.S. endowments fell well short of their return objectives and failed to match market returns over the last decade. Even the largest, most sophisticated U.S. endowments have struggled to the match the returns of simple index benchmarks. Yet, they have resisted increasing their reliance on low-cost passive investment strategies that would guarantee they obtain market returns.

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