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Asset allocation and portfolio performance: Evidence from university endowment funds

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  • Brown, Keith C.
  • Garlappi, Lorenzo
  • Tiu, Cristian

Abstract

We use university endowment funds to study the relationship between asset allocation decisions and performance in multiple asset class portfolios. Although endowments differ substantially in asset class composition, policy portfolio returns and volatilities are remarkably similar across the sample. The risk-adjusted performance of the average endowment is negligible, but actively managed funds generate significantly larger alphas than passive ones. This is consistent with endowment managers exploiting their security selection abilities by over-weighting asset classes in which they have superior skills. Contrary to both theory and prevailing beliefs, asset allocation is not related to portfolio returns in the cross-section but does indirectly influence performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Keith C. & Garlappi, Lorenzo & Tiu, Cristian, 2010. "Asset allocation and portfolio performance: Evidence from university endowment funds," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 268-294, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:finmar:v:13:y:2010:i:2:p:268-294
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Scott Weisbenner, 2012. "The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education," NBER Chapters,in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 151-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Joseph Gerakos & Juhani T. Linnainmaa & Adair Morse, 2016. "Asset Managers: Institutional Performance and Smart Betas," NBER Working Papers 22982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Keith C. Brown & Cristian Ioan Tiu, 2013. "The Interaction of Spending Policies, Asset Allocation Strategies, and Investment Performance at University Endowment Funds," NBER Chapters,in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 43-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2013. "Endowment Management Based on a Positive Model of the University," NBER Chapters,in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 15-41 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 404-425, Fall.
    6. Keith Brown & Cristian Tiu, 2013. "The Interaction of Spending Policies, Asset Allocation Strategies, and Investment Performance at University Endowment Funds," NBER Working Papers 19517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2014. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 931-962, March.
    8. Agarwal, Vikas & Nada, Vikram & Ray, Sugata, 2013. "Institutional investment and intermediation in the hedge fund industry," CFR Working Papers 13-03, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    9. Alexander, Gordon J. & Baptista, Alexandre M., 2011. "Portfolio selection with mental accounts and delegation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 2637-2656, October.
    10. repec:kap:jculte:v:41:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10824-017-9290-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2015. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," NBER Working Papers 21271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J.W. Sappington, 2015. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," Working Papers 244, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    13. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "Impact of Endowment Shocks on Payouts," Working Papers 250, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    14. David Yermack, 2015. "Donor Governance and Financial Management in Prominent U.S. Art Museums," NBER Working Papers 21066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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