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Endowment Modelling

It is tough, but not impossible, for outsiders to know what is going in the Williams endowment. Start with the basic asset allocation as described on page 3 of this pdf. (Comments welcome on whether or not this is a sensible plan.) Find benchmarks (publicly traded ETFs) for each of the asset classes. We don’t know if the managers picked to run Williams 27% allocation to domestic equities will do better or worse than, say, the Russell 3000 but, as a first pass, we can just assume that all managers meet their benchmarks.

Here is a pdf and xls version. My back-of-the-envelope guess? The Williams endowment was down -2.4% in fiscal year 2008 (ending June 30). Comments:

1) Yes, yes. I know that there is a Williams Record article on this topic (which I have not looked at yet). Thanks to Jeff Z for the pointer. I wanted to get this out-of-sample analysis (done ten days ago) out there before I look at the actual results. Update to come.

2) Yes, yes. I know that some of the assumptions here are fairly random. I have no idea what a fair benchmark for the Venture Capital and Absolute Returns portions of the portfolio should be. I suspect that those numbers are too high. (They were chosen by my Factset friend who put together the spreadsheet.) I hope that the Williams Private Equity did better than down 30% but there are no good public benchmarks for that.

3) Someone from Purple Bull should work with me on a public spreadsheet that provided live updates for interested members of the Williams community.

4) I hope that Williams CIO Collette Chilton will provide us with some transparency into the portfolio. How did the different components perform? We don’t need to know every detail, but we should know as much about the Williams endowment as, say, Harvard alumni know about their endowment.

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#1 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 19, 2008 @ 11:34 am

Here’s the link to the Record article from 9/17/08.


Apart from the endowment Chilton took Williams interns this past summer & plans to do this again.

Why the change in management or did I skim the article too quickly & it’s just a change in location?

#2 Comment By frank uible On September 19, 2008 @ 11:56 am

According to the newspapers Yale’s endowment was up 2% and Harvard’s up 8+%. Don’t know whether time frames are the same as here or metrics comparable. Not going to dig out those articles – but you wonks are welcome to do it.

#3 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 19, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

#4 Comment By JeffZ On September 19, 2008 @ 2:53 pm


#5 Comment By larry george On September 19, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

Wonder where it is now, 2.5 months on.

#6 Comment By JG On September 19, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

Let me preface this by saying that I know I’m being annoying. It just grates on my nerves, sorry.

Isn’t it “modeling” and not “modelling”? If you agree and fix the typo, please feel free to delete the comment. If I’m wrong and this is somehow a term of art or something, I’d be curious to know.

#7 Comment By frank uible On September 19, 2008 @ 7:20 pm

My guess is that either way is acceptable as in counselling or counseling and cancelling or canceling – but I don’t care enough to invest further time in it.

#8 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 19, 2008 @ 9:06 pm


1L- Modeling is what Twiggy did.

2Ls – Modelling is more abstract, like mathematical models, or for DK economic modelling.

I hope you’re old enough to know who Twiggy is! The name of a more recent iconic model escapes me.

#9 Comment By JG On September 19, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

I am, and I appreciate the clarification. I made a pitiful attempt to check if that was the case on wikipedia, and it was completely not consistent.

#10 Pingback By Endowment Return: -5% » EphBlog On September 22, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

[…] how the Williams endowment is doing?┬áDavid blogged about this earlier, and even came up with a forecast, but now we have some actual numbers. The Record reports, in an annoyingly vague fashion, that it […]