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  • Writer's pictureJoel Revill

The Endowment Model for Generational Wealth Investment

For families seeking to sustain and grow generational wealth, investing poses a unique set of opportunities and challenges. The endowment model, known for its ability to generate consistent returns and mitigate risks over long periods of time, provides a valuable blueprint for families investing across generations.


What is the endowment model?


The endowment model is an investment strategy that originated with large institutional investors, such as university endowments and foundations. The model is characterized by an emphasis on diversification across a broad range of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, real assets (like real estate and commodities), and alternative investments (such as private equity and hedge funds). The endowment model seeks to achieve consistent long-term growth while managing risk through a combination of asset allocation and investment selection with a focus on alternative investments.


Key principles of the endowment model include a commitment to a long-term investment horizon, an active approach to portfolio management, and a recognition of the importance of risk mitigation. By incorporating alternative investments with low correlation to traditional asset classes, the model aims to maximize overall risk-adjusted returns. This approach allows endowments to navigate market fluctuations more effectively, providing stability and growth over extended periods. The endowment model is also recognized for its adaptability to changing market conditions and its consideration of tax-efficient strategies to optimize overall portfolio performance.


Benefits of the Endowment Model for Generational Wealth


Originally designed for university endowments and foundations, the endowment model offers a compelling framework that aligns with the goals of families seeking to preserve and grow wealth across generations.


Multi-Generational Perspective. The endowment model inherently aligns with the multi-generational nature of wealth transfer. By adopting a disciplined, long-term approach, families ensure that investment decisions consider the needs and goals of future generations. The model's emphasis on a diversified portfolio, including alternative investments, contributes to both wealth preservation and growth. This is crucial to a multi-generational approach, where the goal is to not only transfer but sustain and grow wealth for future generations.


Alignment with Strategic Planning. Strategic planning involves a thoughtful consideration of the values and goals of each generation. The endowment model provides a framework that facilitates the alignment of investment strategies with the family's long-term planning objectives. The model's disciplined asset allocation and investment selection approach aims to deliver consistent, risk-adjusted returns. This reliability is especially valuable for planning, where continuity and predictability are paramount.


Adaptability. As investment landscapes shift and family financial goals evolve, the endowment model's adaptability allows it to incorporate new investment opportunities, navigate changing market dynamics, and adjust distributions accordingly. This ensures that generational wealth remains resilient and continues to compound through economic cycles, ever-changing market conditions, and evolving family needs.


Implementing the Endowment Model for Generational Wealth


Implementing the endowment model involves a comprehensive process that spans family governance, asset allocation, manager selection, and a steadfast commitment to a long-term investment perspective. Families incorporating the model into their investments should consider putting in place the following procedures:


  1. Family Governance and Education. The first step to implementing the endowment model involves establishing clear family governance structures and educating family members about the investment philosophy and objectives. This fosters a shared understanding of risk tolerance, income needs, liquidity constraints, and time horizon. The endowment model may be implemented informally but more often involves the formation of a family office or private family trust company.

  2. Asset Allocation. Tailoring the endowment model to the specific needs of the family requires an asset allocation strategy that considers the family's financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Typically, an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is adopted which determines the target allocation to various asset classes, including equities, fixed income, real assets (like real estate and commodities), alternative investments (such as private equity and hedge funds), and cash. Periodic reviews provide the opportunity to adjust asset allocations based on market conditions, economic outlook, and the family’s investment goals and liquidity needs.

  3. Manager Selection. Manager selection within each asset class may be directed by the family office or by an outside advisor. This involves evaluating manager track records, investment philosophy, team expertise, risk management processes, and compliance. Ongoing performance assessments take into account not only returns but also risk-adjusted performance and how well the manager has navigated various market conditions and economic cycles.

  4. Long-Term Perspective. Implementing the endowment model requires a long-term investment horizon. The model focuses on strategic, patient investing to capture returns over extended periods. It also requires a willingness to ride out short-term market fluctuations and stay committed to the family’s overarching investment strategy.

  5. Tax and Cost Efficiency. Tax implications should be considered as part of every investment decision and tax-efficient investment strategies, such as tax-loss harvesting, tax free exchanges, and holding investments to benefit from lower capital gains tax rates utilized when possible. After-tax returns may be further optimized by incorporating philanthropic structures such as family foundations, charitable trusts, and Donor Advised Funds into portfolio decisions. Minimizing costs, such as transaction costs, management fees, and other expenses associated with investments, is essential for maximizing returns.

  6. Regular Rebalancing. To ensure the model’s effectiveness over time, the portfolio should be periodically rebalanced to maintain the target asset allocation. Rebalancing involves buying or selling assets to bring the portfolio back in line with its strategic allocation, ensuring that risk exposures and liquidity remain within acceptable limits.

  7. Monitoring and Reporting. Families should continuously monitor the performance of their portfolio against its objectives, evaluating the effectiveness of the investment strategy and adjusting as needed based on changing market conditions or the family’s financial needs. Families should also establish transparent reporting mechanisms to keep all stakeholders informed about the portfolio's performance, asset allocation, and investment decisions. Regular communication with relevant parties, such as board members, grantors, and beneficiaries, is essential for long term success.


Conclusion


The endowment model provides a valuable roadmap for navigating the opportunities and challenges presented by investing generational wealth. Applying the endowment model optimizes investments for consistent performance, risk mitigation, changing market conditions and evolving family needs, ensuring a family’s financial legacy is sustained over generations.



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About the Author


With over three decades of experience in financial services, Joel Revill serves as Chief Executive Officer of Two Ocean Trust. Prior to co-founding the firm, Joel was a Portfolio Manager at Citadel a $62 billion alternative investment manager. Joel serves as Selection Panel Chair for Wyoming's Investment Funds Committee which oversees the state's $26 billion sovereign funds. He was appointed by Governor Mark Gordon to the Wyoming Blockchain Select Committee which has created over thirty groundbreaking laws addressing financial technology and digital assets. Joel was also appointed by the Governor, Treasurer, and State Auditor to the Wyoming Stable Token Commission overseeing the first ever state-issued stable token. Joel has served on numerous boards for the firm's private trust company clients as well as non-profit organizations nationally.


About Two Ocean Trust


Two Ocean Trust was founded to serve private clients whose assets are multi-generational. We provide investment management and trust services to ultra-high net worth individuals, private family trust companies, and foundations. Based in Jackson Hole, Two Ocean Trust is uniquely positioned to provide access to Wyoming's tax advantages, modern trust laws, and enhanced privacy and asset protections.



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