Reps. Cleaver, Kennedy Release Report Following Inquiry Into Use of Diverse Asset Managers by College and University Endowments

Oct 8, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, United States Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA) released a report following their inquiry into the usage of women- and minority-owned asset management firms by college and university endowments. In July, Cleaver and Kennedy called for the twenty-five universities with the largest endowments to provide data on the asset managers administering their endowment assets as well as firm selection processes and practices.

“This inquiry was an important first step in uncovering what kind of disparities we’re seeing among asset management firms handling monumental university endowments,” said Congressman Cleaver. “Now that we have this data, we can see where and how some universities are succeeding in diversifying their asset managers and what challenges remain. As we look forward, we will use this report to help inform Congress on steps that need to be taken to facilitate greater diversity within an industry that has tremendous influence on the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, and let’s be clear: there is certainly room for improvement.”

“The devastating lack of diversity among asset managers in this country has denied women and people of color a path towards building wealth for generations,” said Congressman Kennedy. “For too long, these institutions have touted diversity among their admissions, but turned a blind eye to it with their investments. With their massive endowments, universities are uniquely positioned to not just encourage gender and racial diversity among asset managers, but demand it. Though the findings of our report are troubling, it is encouraging that many of our nation’s leading colleges and universities recognize they have a role to play in solving this problem by pursuing the recommendations outlined in this report.”

“The relentless commitment by Representatives Cleaver and Kennedy in their pursuit of endowment transparency and better overall diversity and inclusion practices through strong recommendations will help steer efforts in the right direction,” said Rev. Al Sharpton. “For the past several years, NAN has been committed to working with institutional investors across the corporate, labor, nonprofit, foundation and endowment sectors to tackle the issue of utilization of diverse-owned asset management firms. Having congressional focus will help move the needle. As I’ve said before, we are facing a time of deep moral crisis in this country and leaders of all stripes must do their part to close the equity and opportunity gaps that have negatively impacted members of marginalized communities too long.”

Robert Raben, Executive Director of the Diverse Asset Managers’ Initiative, said, “Kudos to Congressmen Cleaver and Kennedy for leadership here; getting universities to provide data is a big deal. The next step is for the Universities to release this data, to track and report it consistently, and to dig in to why of the people of color with whom they are working in their endowments so few are Black and Latino/a.”

Some key findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Different Opinions on Tracking Ownership: Colleges and universities should build consensus around standards and procedures for defining and tracking firm ownership information.
  • Variation in Percentage of Assets Managed by Diverse-Owned Firms: Reports of assets under management with diverse-owned firms ranged from 5.1 percent to 35 percent.
  • Lack of Publicly Available Data: Only 1 responding university made information about assets under management with diverse-owned firms publicly available prior to the inquiry.
  • Ambiguity on Future Allocations: Only 3 responding universities detailed specific targets or projections for future allocations to diverse-owned firms.
  • Variation in adoption of diversity and inclusion practices: Some institutions have implemented more diversity and inclusion practices than others. Many respondents were found to not be tracking investments with diverse-owned firms.

After examining the differing practices from various institutions, Cleaver and Kennedy provided ten recommendations as general principles that should be adopted and scaled industry-wide:

  1. Commit to asset management diversity at the highest levels of your institution;
  2. Hire, promote and retain diverse professionals on the university investment team;
  3. Actively promote an inclusive environment in the university investment office;
  4. Use the university investment office to further develop the next generation of talent;
  5. Strengthen relationships with diverse asset management firms;
  6. Evaluate your institution’s process for sourcing asset managers to partner with;
  7. Discus diversity and inclusion values with external asset management firms;
  8. Track university allocations to diverse asset management firms;
  9. Use your institution’s voice to positively influence the financial services industry on diversity and inclusion and other important governance issues; and
  10. Publicly disclose information about your institution’s efforts.

Colleges and Universities participating in the inquiry include: Harvard University, The University of Texas, Yale University, Stanford University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, the Texas A&M University, University of Michigan, University of California, Northwestern University, Columbia University in the City of New York, Duke University, The University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, Cornell University, University of Virginia, Rice University, Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University, University of Southern California, Dartmouth College, and The Ohio State University.

The only institution to refuse to provide data for the inquiry was the University of Notre Dame.

You can find the official report from Reps. Cleaver and Kennedy here.

 

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.