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Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment Hardcover – May 15, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0684864433 ISBN-10: 0684864436 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684864436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684864433
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Swensen has been the chief investment officer for the past 14 years at Yale University, where he is responsible for managing and investing more than $6 billion of the university's endowment assets and investment funds. Realizing an annual return of more than 16 percent on his investments, Swensen has added more than $2 billion to Yale's coffers, and his consistent track record has attracted the notice of Wall Street portfolio managers. Here Swensen provides a brief history of endowment funds and explains the purpose of endowment accumulation and the goals for institutional portfolios. One of the strategies behind his success has been to diversify asset classes and move beyond a reliance on domestic marketable securities. He distinguishes between traditional and alternative asset classes, looks at performance evaluation issues and tools, and considers the investment decision-making process. Although its audience will be limited, this book is a necessary purchase for libraries with collections that include the topic of investment management. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Richard C. Levin F.W. Beinecke Professor of Economics and President, Yale University David Swensen's creative and disciplined approach to investment has given Yale the resources it needs to augment its capacity for excellence in scholarship and teaching. Those who absorb the wisdom in this book will likewise strengthen the institutions they serve. -- Review

Customer Reviews

He managed to provide insight and make interesting a lot of topics previously thought simple.
Excelente book, for those interested in portfolio management, asset alocation, and investments it's a must read.
Bruno Maueler
Swensen advises against chasing managers who have performed well simply because of their past performance.
John Mihaljevic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John Mihaljevic on April 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Swensen's book is a must-read for endowment managers and other institutional investors, particularly those who take a fund-of-funds approach (as does Yale, where Swensen is Chief Investment Officer). Swensen aptly lays out the investment policy that has enabled Yale to consistently outperform other U.S. endowments. As Yale's CIO, Swensen has set a target portfolio allocation that departs significantly from the still heavily U.S. equity and debt-focused strategy of most endowments. Swensen's approach includes a large allocation to asset classes that are not highly correlated to the U.S. public equity market. He outlines these "alternative" classes in his book, giving the reader an excellent view of how alternative investments can increase risk-adjusted portfolio returns.
Perhaps the biggest contribution of Swensen's book, however, is the debunking of myths that still lull fiducaries into making the wrong decisions, for example when it comes to picking investment managers. Swensen advises against chasing managers who have performed well simply because of their past performance. If attributes such as personal integrity and the right fee structure are lacking, solid past performance can become a liability, not an asset. Swensen describes the example of private equity firm KKR-- after tremendous early successes, the flood of investor capital into KKR enabled the firm's partners to set up a fee structure that ensured big payoffs for themselves even if their funds underperformed. This is just one of many valuable lessons the reader will draw from Swensen's book.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Bockian on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This survey of endowment investing offers an incisive framework for how to think about investable assets of charitable institutions. The value of the book is that Swensen has thought long and hard about how endowment investing differs from personal wealth management and how those differences ripple through almost all aspects of overseeing and implementing endowment investments. As the chair of an endowment investment committee and the author of the Endowment Stewardship blog, I find all of Swensen's insights valuable, but especially his chapters on endowment purposes, investment and spending goals, investment philosophy and investment process. [...]Also, if you're an individual investor trying to copy Yale, this book will explain why you're wasting your time.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By "bookriver" on April 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
First of all, Swensen and Takahashi's team puzzled me by its consistent performance to beat the benchmark for over 15 years, with last year¡¯s stunning annual return of 41%, leading the assets under management to easily surpass $10 Billion. The book is not only a great resource to look into the minds of the people who made this happen but also a wonderful application of finance, investment, asset allocation, strategy and management that you are learning in business school. Without mentioning the merits of the finance theory and investment techniques, the book is presenting a compelling case study of how investment office fits into the picture of institution building.
Second, the fascinating aspects of the book is the ¡°unconventional approach¡±, not just simply statistics and financial modeling, for long-time horizon investing. For example, in asset allocation and manager selection, it can come from topdown analysis with support of quantitative modeling and sophisticated simulation; it also can come from scientific findings and number crunching to uncover the value creation process, which usually leads to the later asset allocation strategy to fully take advantage of the discoveries.
Third, the stress and analysis of alternative investment assets and absolute returns are also worthy of mentioning. Contrary to what traditional financial theories or books focusing on efficient markets, Swensen¡¯s book casts a lot of insights on the less-covered alternative asset classes and less efficient markets. Interestingly, they never seem to be constrained by their own defined class by constantly exploring those asset classes. For example, Swensen is famous for backing venture capital and private equity. It is true that they took the plunge well before others did.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Preston Kavanagh on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Swenson's reputation was made by the investment results he has generated, which in turn are based on good insights and steely discipline in managing a portfolio. That said, he could have used an editor on this book. His prose style is almost a mockery of a business presentation - here's what he's going to say, he says it, and then a recap of what he said. Still, his style, with its absolute emphasis on clearly communicating to the reader, is a huge improvement over quasi-academic articles in the Journal of Finance.

Equity bias and diversification - what's new there? Try the new lengths to which Swenson has taken portoflio diversification, and thus he has been able to afford an otherwise unsustainable level of investment in equities. Despite my comments on his style, the chapters on traditional and alternative asset classes can and should be read reptitively. (For fun, simultaeneously flip through _Triumph of the Optimists_, a historical survey of global markets.)

To my mind, the greatest problem fiduciaries seem to have is in staying consistent and disciplined in their approach to markets. While Swenson makes frequent tangential forays into describing the problem and how it manifests, this book on portfolio management would have benefited from a chapter on how to manage an investment team. Clearly stated objectives, consistent application, independence from portfolio managers, individual responsibilities vs. committee consensus, recruiting the right people...there is certainly enough there for a good chapter. The closing chapter on "Investment Process" is a valuable contribution, but it left me wanting to know more.
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More About the Author

David F. Swensen is the chief investment officer of Yale University and the bestselling author of Pioneering Portfolio Management. He serves on the boards of TIAA, The Brookings Institution, Carnegie Institution, and Hopkins School. At Yale, where he produced an unparalleled two-decade investment record of 16.1 percent-per-annum returns, he teaches economics classes at Yale College and finance classes at Yale¹s School of Management. Mr. Swensen lives in New Haven, Connecticut.