Swensen to advise Cambridge investors

Cambridge University has tapped Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen to restructure its endowment, the British school announced Wednesday.

Swensen, who will remain at Yale, will join Cambridge’s first Investment Board in an attempt to revamp the university’s investment strategy, according to a Cambridge press release. Swensen is highly recognized for his success managing Yale’s endowment, which has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years.

John Griswold, executive director of the Commonfund Institute, said Swensen is a prize for Cambridge’s managers.

“I think almost any institution’s investment board would love to have a David Swensen to bring his wisdom to the table,” Griswold said.

Cambridge’s new board is in the process of creating the first professional investment office at a British university, which will bring its endowment system more in line with that of U.S. schools. The board will also advise the office on new investment strategies, according to Cambridge’s statement.

Griswold said Swensen must be wary of conflicts of interest that could violate Yale’s strict disclosure policies.

“He’ll have to recuse himself from certain discussions and decisions,” Griswold said. “He’ll have to be careful that he doesn’t recommend something that has a limited capacity that could hurt Yale’s interests.”

Deputy Provost Charles Long said he expects that Swensen will advise Cambridge on a structural level rather than a portfolio level.

“I would be surprised if what he’s doing is not helping them set up a good investment process rather than sitting there advising on what they should be investing their money in,” Long said.

Cambridge’s endowment is currently valued at about $1.76 billion.

Comments