Women-Owned Money Management Firms Get Only a Trickle of Business From University Endowment Funds

A new study by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, Florida, in partnership with the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University’s Stern School of Business, examines the degree to which the endowments of the country’s wealthiest private and public colleges and universities are hiring asset management firms owned by women. The researchers sought information on the money managers at the 25 private colleges and universities and the 25 public universities with the largest endowments. The endowments collectively hold $587 billion in total assets. Only 12 universities were willing to disclose information to the researchers on the firms that managed their money.

The 12 universities that agreed to participate in the survey have more than $195 billion in endowment assets. Of the total, $97.36 billion in assets were under the management of U.S.-based firms as of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. Of this nearly $100 billion in invested assets, only $4.4 billion was under the management of firms owned by women.

Most of the colleges and universities had allocated only a token amount of funds to women-owned firms. Princeton University was the major exception. Princeton had $2.39 billion of its $28.1 billion of assets under management at women-owned firms. The University of Texas System had $500 million invested with women-owned firms, but this was just 3.2 percent of assets under management.

Rice University, Duke University, and the University of Chicago all had at least $200 million invested with women-owned firms. Of these Rice University led the way with 6.7 percent of assets under management with women-owned firms.

Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, and Rutgers University, all had less than $10 million of their billion-dollar endowments invested with women-owned firms. None of the assets of the University of Colorado’s more than $2 billion in assets under management were at women-owned firms.

We can only speculate about the money managers of the colleges and universities that did not respond to the survey, but one would think that schools that had a significant amount of money at women-owned firms would be happy to broadcast that news. The authors of the report hope that more colleges and universities respond in the future. “The first step to equity is transparency,” the authors of the report write. “Without a shared understanding of the facts, we cannot know where we stand, where we want to go, or whether we are making any progress.”

Filed Under: Research/Study


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