Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Interview with Yale's CIO, David Swensen (click here)

Yale University is one of the gold standard investors in the Private Equity world. Having visited with the folk there in the past year, I can say they are thorough, well informed and professional.

The University is well known for its proactive approach to alternative investing (venture, real estate and hedge funds) and eschewing Fund of Fund managers, which Mr. Swensen calls 'a cancer on the institutional-investor world.' Harsh words, and as with the case of broad generalizations, I can say after dealing with a number of value-add folk in the field, the comment was too broad and unfair.

Yale concentrates on finding inefficiencies in the market and taking an entrepreneurial approach by being an early adopter of strategies that may not yet be obvious. They execute this strategy with their own staff, which concentrates authority and responsibility.

Before the turmoil last year, where the endowment lost a reported 25% of its assets, they enjoyed a 10 year run with an average annual return of 16%.

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