Barnard Replaces Investure as Manager of $286 Million Endowment

Barnard College is replacing its money manager, Investure LLC, with another firm that’s able to invest its $286 million endowment in more socially responsible companies.

Strategic Investment Group, based in Arlington, Virginia, will become the fund’s manager at the end of September, Barnard said Wednesday in a statement. Investure, run by Alice Handy in Charlottesville, Virginia, had overseen the school’s investment office since 2006. Barnard is at least the third client to depart Investure in the past three years.

In March, Barnard’s board of trustees voted to divest from energy companies that deny climate change, saying the women’s college, which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York, will “distinguish between companies based on their behavior and willingness to transition to a cleaner economy.”

Investment Options

Barnard said in Wednesday’s statement that it decided to make the change for several reasons including seeking investment options to implement its new policy. Clients have said that Investure’s business model doesn’t allow customers, whose money is pooled, to exclude certain investments.

Handy couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. In the statement, the school thanked Investure for “its strong relationship with Barnard College.”

“Strategic has a proven track record of managing endowments and has achieved strong returns,” Barnard said in the statement. “The firm has the desired ability to tailor investments to meet Barnard’s specific needs.”

Barnard joins Rockefeller Brothers Fund and The Commonwealth Fund in parting ways with Handy, whose success has helped ignite an industry of outside investing firms for university endowments and foundations. With the loss of Barnard, Investure will have 12 clients, according to its website.

Fossil Fuels

The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation in New York with an endowment of $711 million as of June 30, 2016, sought a new investment office after deciding to purge tobacco stocks from its portfolio, according to a person familiar with the matter. It replaced Investure with a unit of Perella Weinberg Partners in January, according to the person.

In 2014, Investure lost Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which decided to divest from fossil fuel companies. Rockefeller Brothers, which has an $816 million fund, hired a unit of Perella Weinberg that customizes portfolios.

The Commonwealth Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund still have some private equity investments with Investure, while the rest of the assets have been moved to Perella Weinberg, the person said.

In March, Robert Goldberg, Barnard’s chief operating officer, said in an interview that the endowment had about $18 million of investments in fossil fuel companies, including private equity partnerships entered into through Investure. Divestment will take time because the only way to unwind the partnerships is to sell and “we don’t want to sell at a discount,” he said.

Barnard’s endowment had an investment decline of 4.5 percent in the year through June 30, 2016, and was valued at $286 million. The fiscal 2017 investment performance hasn’t been released.

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