How stealing Yale’s Investment Strategy Can Make You Rich

When I spoke with Jack Meyer, the former head of Harvard University’s endowment, at the offices of Goldman Sachs on Fleet Street in London back in 2009, he was thoroughly chastened by the recent 25%+ drop in the value of Harvard’s endowment. A month or two later, Stanford University’s President John Hennessy, reflecting his Silicon Valley roots, was more optimistic about Stanford’s similar collapse, telling me: “Look, Nick, it’s not the end of the world. It just puts us back to where we were in 2006.” Hennessy’s optimism notwithstanding, the crash of 2008 turned much of the global financial world on its head. This included much-vaunted “Yale model” that had made Harvard and Stanford tens of billions of extra dollars over the past two decades.

Despite the challenges of the market meltdown of 2008, the “Yale model” remains one of the most powerful investment strategies around. And thanks to exchange-traded funds (ETFs), today you can duplicate this investment strategy in your own personal investment portfolio. It is also an investment approach I have implemented with impressive success through the “Ivy Plus” Investment Program for my clients at my investment firm Global Guru Capital.

For a period of more than 20 years, the investment strategies of top university endowments seemed blessed by fairy dust. The top three U.S. university endowments — Harvard, Yale and Stanford — consistently had returned more than 15% per year over the last decade. And even after the onset of the credit crunch in the summer of 2007, the Harvard endowment gained 8.6%, Stanford rose 6.2% and Yale climbed 4.5% through June 30, 2008. That compared with a drop of 15% in the S&P 500 over the same time period.

That all changed once the financial crisis hit in full force in 2008, and the top university endowments plummeted by 25%-30%. The joint losses for Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton hit $23 billion in the 12 months ending June 30, 2009.

Maybe those Ivy League types weren’t so smart after all…

Since the dark days of 2008, top university endowments have staged a comeback. Primed by savvy investments in technology, Stanford’s endowment rose 14.4% in the year ended June 30, 2010, outshining returns at Harvard and Yale, which gained 11% and 8.9%, respectively.

Yale’s David Swensen: The “Babe Ruth of Investing”

You can trace the long-term investment success of top university endowments directly back to the efforts of a single man, Yale’s David Swensen.

As the Yale endowment’s chief investment officer for two decades, David Swensen has earned a reputation as the “Babe Ruth” of the endowment investment world

After taking over the Yale endowment in the mid 1980s, Swensen boasted 15.6% average annual returns through 2007 and no down years going back to 1987.

So, how did Swensen’s success single-handedly change the rules of institutional investing?

In 1985, around the time Swensen took over, Yale had more than 80% of its endowment invested in domestic stocks and bonds. But Swensen, an economics PhD, observed that no asset allocation model ever actually recommended that way. As long as their correlation with U.S. stocks and bonds was low, adding unconventional assets to your portfolio would both reduce your risk and increase your return. This led Yale to emphasize private equity and venture capital, real estate, hedge funds that offer long/short or absolute return strategies, raw materials, and even more esoteric investments like storage tanks, timber forests and farmland.

Until the fall of 2008, this approach worked almost like magic…

The “Yale Model”: Still the Best over the Long Run

But the relatively poor performance of the Yale endowment during the crash of 2008 put Swensen on the defensive. Critics pointed out that during the meltdown, a traditional portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds would have lost only 13% of its value, rather than the 25% or more lost by the diversified portfolios of Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

But as Yale’s President Richard Levin pointed out in Newsweek magazine, that argument is astonishingly shortsighted. Over the past 10 years, including the crash, Yale’s endowment managed average annual returns of 11.7% to reach its current value of $16 billion. A 60/40 portfolio over the same period would have earned 2.1%, producing an endowment of only $4.4 billion. Put another way, Swensen’s strategy had earned Yale an extra $11.6 billion over 10 years. That indirectly made Swensen one of the world’s largest philanthropists, on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Throughout the crisis, Swensen remained adamant that the model was viable over the long run. He pointed out that the single worst thing that you can do is to avoid risky assets after a market crash. He knew that Yale had suffered from poor decisions on asset allocations in its past — one that had put Harvard-level wealth out of its reach forever.

You see, at the time of the market crash in 1929, the endowments of Harvard and Yale were roughly the same size. But Yale’s trustees got spooked and invested heavily into “safe” bonds for the next five decades, while Harvard tilted more toward stocks. The result? Over the next 50 years, in relative terms, Yale’s endowment shrunk to half the size of Harvard’s.

Since the crash of 2008, Harvard has implemented the lessons of 1929 well. Leaving its critics aghast, Harvard actually has increased its allocation to high-risk positions in alternatives, at the expense of its “safe,” fixed-income allocation.

Yes, You Can Replicate Harvard’s Success…

In 2005, Swensen published a book, “Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment,” which explains how you can apply Yale’s investment approach to your own portfolio. Swensen argues that Yale’s investment strategy is tough for you to duplicate. After all, Yale has 20 to 25 investment professionals (Harvard at one time had as many as 200) who devote their careers to looking for investment opportunities. Yale also has the deck stacked in its favor. Its sterling reputation allows it to invest in the very best private equity and hedge funds — asset classes that are not readily available to retail investors. As Mohamed El-Arien, a former head of the Harvard endowment put it, attempting to duplicate Harvard’s results “would be like telling my son to drop out of school and play basketball with the goal of becoming the next Michael Jordan.”

Of course, highly paid investment managers like El-Arien have every reason in the world to overstate the impact of their “skill.” But this does not dilute Swensen’s basic message: to focus on the “big-picture” asset allocation decisions and move your money out of U.S. stocks and bonds into global and other asset classes. Swensen himself recommends that you model Yale’s asset allocation through a portfolio consisting exclusively of index funds with low fees.

At my firm, Global Guru Capital, I have run an “Ivy Plus” Investment Program that replicates the investment strategy of the top university endowments using Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) for the past two years. So far, it has behaved exactly as advertised. In the 12 months between June 30, 2009 and June 30, 2010- dates for which Havard has released performance data – the performence of the fully invested “Ivy Plus” investment program has matched the Harvard endowment almost exactly.

Of course, two years isn’t a long time. But the “Ivy Plus” strategy has outperformed some of the top hedge funds in the world during some of the toughest times ever in financial markets, by sticking to a disciplined, highly diversified asset allocation strategy.

My biggest challenge? The “Ivy Plus” investment program is a hard strategy to “sell” to my potential clients. It just seems too unexciting and straightforward to believe…

The bottom line? You may not have access to the Michael Jordans of the investment world. But diversifying out of a standard U.S. stock and bond portfolio into asset classes like commodities, real estate, and global stocks and bonds can go a long way toward generating Harvard-style returns.

Maybe those guys and gals at Harvard, Yale and Stanford aren’t so dumb, after all…

Property Investment Vs Property Speculation

Most people get Real Estate wrong for two simple reasons.:

1. They don’t understand the difference between an asset and a liability
2. They don’t understand the difference between investing and speculating

The broke majority live under the misguided belief that their family home is an asset. An asset by definition is Something valuable that an entity owns, benefits from or has use of, in generating income. The key is the words generating income. By that definition your home is not an asset, it is a liability. It does not generate income, it costs you money.

The broke majority will borrow as much as they possibly can, to buy the most expensive home they can afford, in the mistaken belief that this is a good investment. In fact they are are burdening themselves with the worst kind of debt. Long term, expensive, non-deductible debt that produces no income in return. The same kind of debt that lead to the housing collapse in the USA.

Successful investors understand this crucial point. Your home is not an investment.

The Business Dictionary defines an investment as Money committed or property acquired for future income. Now some will argue that an investment doesn’t have to produce an income and cite as an example gold bullion, collectibles or share futures contracts. By definition, none of these are investments, they are items of speculation. They can go up in value or, just as easily, go down. You are speculating on the future trade-able value, not investing in the inherent value of the income an asset represents. Tens of thousands of homeowners around the world discovered in 2009 that home values can fall and can fall dramatically and disastrously.

If you buy a house to live in with no income return expected from it, but in the hope it will increase in value, you are speculating not Investing.

If you buy a house to rent out, you are investing. The Australian government has long recognised the difference and that is why they allow you to claim the expenses relating to a rental property, including interest payments, as a tax deduction but do not allow any deductions for expenses incurred in buying a house to live in. In other words, the government is willing to share the risk of investing in income generating real estate because the risks are lower than tying up your money in your home.

Smart investors have a small or no mortgage on their own home and the majority of their borrowings are for rental property because that is the lowest risk strategy. They also get the best advice they can on quickly reducing the mortgage on their home.

Personal Finance for Seniors Be Careful of Investment Scams

Studies have shown senior citizens are frequently the target of various investment scams, with many losing money and property to dishonest and predatory operators. The good news is that armed with the following information – seniors will know what to look for and can identify and avoid such scams.

Here is a list of the common scams that target the elderly, and how each operates.

Pyramid schemes
Investment seminars
“Compensation” Scams
Equipment leases
Gift annuities

Pyramid schemes

An old favorite for the scamsters, Pyramid schemes assure high returns to investors, but the only people who systematically get rich from these schemes are the promoters themselves. These investment opportunities generally promise large profits based on the investors’ ability to enlist other people to join the programs. Because the scheme uses the money from new investors to make payments to the old ones, some initial investors make money, but sooner or later, these schemes collapse and most of the investors lose all their money. Pyramid schemes often have no other source of revenue except for money put in by the new investors.

Investment seminars

Investment seminars do help to make money, but the ones who are consistently laughing their way to the bank are the advice peddlers. They are the ones making money from the admission charges, books, posters and audiotapes/ CDs sales. You should be very wary whenever you are offered any such get-rich-quick schemes.

“Compensation” Scams

These scams bring to mind the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. Investment scam victims often let the scamsters take them for a ride repeatedly. This is because the scammers promise to compensate the previous losses and bring in fresh gains. After losing some funds, seniors who have been duped once often go along with the new schemes with the hope of recouping their losses. Instead, they compound the damage and let the con artists take away more from their savings.

Equipment leases

It is true that most of the equipment lease deals are genuine, but there are quite a few tricksters operating who try to take advantage of the seniors by selling interests in ATMs, pay phones and Internet kiosks. What generally happens in such a scam is that companies sell equipment through intermediaries and then agree to lease back the equipment for a fee. Investors are promised huge profits with no risk. But the unrealistically high commissions and returns that they claim to pay are not feasible, and would doom any project.

Gift annuities

Gift annuities are basically cash/ property transfers to charitable organizations. A charitable gift annuity is just like a normal fixed annuity – except that a charity benefits from your investment. There is no problem with gift annuities per se, but many small organizations have jumped into the fray, promising high returns but giving only vague information about themselves. These are generally designed to relieve you of your funds or property, and it’s best to steer clear of such schemes.

While there is no shortage of con artists, most of them operate in very predictive ways, as outlined above. Seniors citizens can easily recognize these scams from the descriptions and methodologies mentioned here, and steer clear of the scammers before they are taken advantage of.

Michael Bloomberg Investment Strategies

Michael Bloomberg is the world’s eighth richest man according to Forbes 400 released in September 2008. He is one of the most successful businessman/politician in the world. Do you know where his success came from. Was it because of business strategic planning or just a plain luck?

Up to do this time, Bloomberg holds 88% of the ownership of Bloomberg L.P., a financial software company. He is also the mayor of New York and spent two terms for the city. In 1981, Michael was fired out of the Salomon Brother where he served as the general partner. He headed the equity trading and the systems development. Before he stepped out of the company, he was given $10 million dollar severance package. With that money on that same year, he started his own company. It was called the Innovative Market Systems. He had his first customer in the name of Merrill Lynch. The company installed 20 Market Master Terminals and invested $30 million to the IMS. The company was then changed to Bloomberg L.P. Few years after 5000 terminals have been installed. The company also expanded their business by launching Bloomberg Tradebook, the Bloomberg Messaging Service and the Bloomberg newswire. The company continued to prosper and the rest is history.?

With recognitions at hand, Michael Bloomberg became one of the business tycoons in the world. He is one of the highly admired business people. Even though he already resigned as the president of the company to serve the people in New York city, his legacy still prevails among business enthusiasts. His investment strategies are inspiration for businessman and business service providers. For those who are eying global business development, they want to know Bloomberg’s business approaches. But does anybody here knows his secret? None.?

His investment strategies is distinct and defined. The success of Bloomberg LP is directly attributed to Michael’s innovative strategies. Although they were not yet revealed to people, some sort of methods that he used were named as his secret to progress. He once worked as the head of equity trading in Salomon Brothers. And he used it on his new business. Equity trading is the buying and selling of stock shares Shares in large publicly-traded companies are bought and sold through one of the major stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange or Tokyo Stock Exchange, which serve as managed auctions for stock trades. Stock shares in smaller public companies are bought and sold in over-the-counter (OTC) markets. A simple yet effective type of investment that Bloomberg used for his little capital.?

From a capital of $10 million, he’s now making almost double of it because of his effective investment strategies. He invested much of his money on sectors he thinks beneficial to people. Bloomberg LP, which is a financial data and communications company, branched out and started a news service provider. It is now known for radio, television, internet and publishing operations. Bloomberg companies are global, multi-media based. Distributor of information services. They combine news, data and analysis for global financial markets and businesses.

Best Ways To Invest 10000 In 2013

If you are thinking whats the best ways to invest 50000 in 2013 you will find many options.

The most popular investments are property investment, carbon investment, wine investment, stock and shares, the list is never ending with what seems like great opportunities to cash in fast and make excellent returns. We know things are never this easy especially when it comes down with parting with your well-earned cash. When considering an investment you must make sure you understand every aspect of your venture.

For example the property market has been suffering hard in recent years. Its hard to tell if an investment today in property will turn fruitful in a few years time. The property market changes so fast and not just in one country its widespread around the world. While there can be a property boom it seems nowadays its more than likely it will be more of a crash, especially in todays economic climate. When it comes down to property you need to invest well, finding that perfect property or properties to invest in which means often trying to obtain them at discounted prices. You can get a agent to help build your portfolio and advise you. Building a property portfolio is not easy it requires hard work and a lot of time and big risks because you will be using large amounts of money to purchase property, be it your own money or the banks.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of interest in green investments such as solar, wind turbines, carbon credits. The biggest downfalls with green investments are they are very difficult to understand. In most cases you never see your investment, especially if you invest in carbon credits. Understanding carbon credits is quite a feat and finding a good investment that gives you returns is even harder!

One of the best investments for 2012 we came across was diamond investment. Very easy to understand, fast to setup through a verified dealer, you can actually keep your diamond yourself as long as you have insurance or you can keep it in a vault. Diamonds come in many sizes and there is different type of diamonds, colored diamonds being a favorite.

With the right diamond investment company it really is hard to loose out as we found there is so many quick exit plans to cash in fast or if you are in it for the long-haul and can invest over 3 5 years then the returns can be massive. Diamonds are really easy to understand you know what you are getting, you can see your investment, and you can invest however much money you want to test the water, unlike property. We think its the best investment for 2013.

If you’re looking for the best ways to invest 20,000, there really aren’t many options as good as Diamond Investments, and if you love diamonds, why not get in on the newest vein of this investment opportunity in 2013. Imagine making up to 30% return on your investment (ROI).