Endowments and Foundations | Mercer

Endowments and Foundations

  • Customized

    Flexible and scalable solutions

  • Extensive

    Global research and resources in your grasp

  • Strategic

    Alignment of your mission and investment portfolio

Achieving Higher Risk-Adjusted Returns, Fulfilling Your Mission


As an endowment or foundation, you rely on permanent pools of capital to fund your activities. A well-managed endowment or foundation will provide annual income to your organization while maintaining the real value of your assets in perpetuity. Yet greater reliance on endowments also makes your institution more vulnerable to adverse events. Mercer can help. We work with your investment committees to help you gain a more strategic perspective on governance processes and implementation considerations — ensuring the checks and balances necessary to support successful investment execution.

At Mercer, we offer a range of services including tools and research, investment advisory, and full delegation. As an example, we can help you assess a range of activities from environmental, social, and governance-driven (ESG) investing to litigation vulnerability, tax changes, and updating your institution’s risk tolerance and more. We are dedicated to helping your organization not only realize higher risk-adjusted returns but also fulfill a higher mission. 

Our Best Thinking on Fiduciary Oversight and Implementation


We understand that governance is a top priority for your board of directors and investment committee — as it should be. Long before portfolio structuring and investment decisions, good governance will enable you to make sound and efficient decisions, promote accountability, and a sustained focus on achieving your desired goals. You must enable your fiduciaries to appropriately balance your institution’s risk tolerance with its return objectives. At Mercer, we believe governance starts at the highest governing body of your organization and flows through to the person charged with accomplishing tasks to implement your program. We’ve found that best-practice for governance involves both policy and implementation. It is an ongoing process of definition and oversight that should help you answer this question:

“Are we managing the portfolio the way we said we would?”

The best governance structure will allow for flexibility and innovation while still maintaining prudent oversight.


Dedicated not-for-profit professionals1


Endowment and foundation clients1


Consider Alternative Investments — A Purposeful, Thoughtful Approach

Alternative investments can provide your endowment with an opportunity to guard against the volatility of equities, hedge against inflation sensitivities, and potentially achieve better returns. History shows that hedge funds can provide a great way to diversify out of equities without sacrificing returns, and private equity can potentially attain a significantly higher rate of return than publicly traded equities. Real assets such as infrastructure and real estate provide elements of both these qualities as well as a measure of protection against inflation. At Mercer, we often recommend maintaining a meaningful allocation to a diversified portfolio of alternatives.

Strong Credentials in Alternatives, Long-term Track Record

We have managed alternative investments including private equity, hedge funds, real estate, private debt, and infrastructure for over 20 years. Our global footprint allows us to closely follow the complex and dynamic alternatives market — we track more than 2,000 different alternative investments across the world and have a global alternatives boutique with 70+ specialists.1

Why Responsible Investing May Be Right For Your Organization

Principles matter, sustainability matters. We can help you support your beliefs and your financial goals. At Mercer, we recognize the critical role of responsible investment for clients, whether motivated by values alignment via negative screening, value generation via consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and/or mission alignment via impact investing.

Our ESG roots go deep. We advised the United Nations on the development of the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) and are a UN PRI signatory. ESG considerations are embedded in Mercer’s manager research, with criteria applied and evaluated from the sourcing of the investment idea. This process allows for strategic, holistic integration of ESG opportunities at the portfolio level, rather than the adjunct overlay so frequently seen.



Why Endowments and Foundations Choose Mercer

We have been working with endowments and foundations for more than four decades.

  • Customized, flexible and scalable solutions
  • Unmatched global research and resources in your grasp
  • Strategic alignment of your mission and investment portfolio
  • Extensive experience — our team members include former CIOs and investment committee/board members
  • Rich history of innovation in responsible investing — a dedicated ESG team
Endowments and Foundations Insights
Stay informed with the latest thinking on endowments and foundations, research, regulations, and more.


          Please See Important Notices For Further Information.

          1  Information above is as of December 31, 2016.


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