Thirty years ago I read a fascinating article in Forbes Magazine on college endowment funds. In general these portfolios were filled with stocks your grandmother owned — ATT, IBM, Pfizer, Gillette, Mobil, Proctor and Gamble. Not today, according to Jeremy Crigler, the chief investment officer of the Tulane University Endowment.
Jeremy is married to Pam Carroll Crigler. He graduated from Tulane in 1988 and then received his MBA from Duke. After several years with the Cornell Endowment Fund, he moved to his present position at Tulane in 2008.
“We’ll invest in anything, Rick, as long as the price is cheap — U.S. stocks and bonds, global stocks and bonds, start-up venture capital firms, real estate, oil and gas wells, toll roads, natural gas pipelines. My job is to find asset classes that are underpriced. Once we determine that an asset class is underpriced, like real estate a few years back, we hire an outside firm to find the best investments for us.
“It may sound risky, but it’s not when you consider the second principle of our investment model: diversity. We recently purchased sub prime mortgages because no one wanted them. The price was cheap. These investments, however, represented a small portion of our overall portfolio. We manage risk carefully through the many different types of investments in our portfolio.
“The third principle is time. We have a long-term time horizon, far longer than the individual investor. Our fund was created to exist in perpetuity. We don’t care what happens next month. Ten, even 20 years out, is what is important to us. So if we purchase an asset at the right price, we will make money over time.”
Jeremy began the interview by stressing the important differences between investing for a college endowment fund and investing for one’s individual portfolio. I left the discussion with this engaging young man thinking about the many similarities. Buying at a cheap price, a diversified portfolio, and a long-term time horizon are the principles most investment gurus preach.
Last week the 152nd annual Agricultural Fair was held in West Tisbury with several East Chop artists winning awards. Linda Collette won blue ribbons for all three of the needlepoint pieces she submitted. Wini Blacklow conducted two four-hour lace workshops, and won a yellow ribbon for a shell flower arrangement. Caryl Dearing won four blue ribbons and one red for her knitting. Nancy Corvese won a blue ribbon for her stained glass window, and Alison Hammett won a red ribbon for her photography entry. Please be sure to congratulate these fine East Chop artists when you see them.
The East Chop Association meeting last Saturday was routine in most respects with the question and answer segment dominated by the problem of erosion on the bluff. Several people present at the meeting praised the Gazette for its recent special section on beach erosion. I sat in the audience proud to be a writer for this fine newspaper.