The investment process starts with the quantification of the investment objective of a sustainable and reliable level of spending. Based on long-run investment return assumptions for various asset classes, a spending rate of 5% of average market value on a trailing 16 quarters has been adopted. This translates into an average expected return (excluding inflation) of 6.5% for
- 4.5% spending (5% lagged)
- 1.5% higher education inflation factor
- 0.5% real growth
This real return objective then drives the portfolio design process. The first step of the process is
to decide what kinds of assets ("asset classes") will be included in the portfolio. At Macalester
we group asset classes into three categories according to their role in the portfolio. The three
- Economic Growth - designed to drive returns in the portfolio. Included are equity-oriented and credit-related instruments. Investment strategies generally implemented via long-only mandates or hedge fund and private capital structures.
- Real Assets - designed to protect the portfolio from inflation. Included are real estate and natural resource investments (e.g., energy related partnerships and timberland funds).
- Safety and Liquidity – designed to ensure adequate liquid resources to fund operations and to protect the portfolio in times of market stress and against deflation. Comprised of U. S. Treasuries and cash.
The portfolio is then diversified by asset class, geography, company size, and manager style,
as well as by active and passive management. The portfolio currently has in excess of forty
managers across the different asset classes. Allocations to these various strategies are made by
policy, and assets are then rebalanced to the target allocations on a regular basis. The broad asset
class allocations flow from the endowment governance policies.