- Strong conviction that equities, both US and emerging markets, will be the top performers in the year ahead
- 50% of respondents noted that a slowdown in global growth poses the greatest single risk to investment performance
- Private equity continues to be among the top alternative investment picks of endowments and foundations
- NEPC’s Q4 2013 survey noted that 41% of respondents planned to allocate more to real assets in 2014
NEPC, one of the industry’s largest independent, full-service investment consulting firms to endowments and foundations, has made public the results of its Q1 2014 NEPC Poll, a measure of endowment and foundation confidence and sentiment related to the economy, investing and market performance.
“Our survey found respondents feeling much more confident in the economic outlook, with fully 75% noting the economy is in a better place now than it was this time last year,” said Cathy Konicki, Partner and Head of NEPC’s Endowment & Foundation Practice Group. “Overall confidence is reflected in more than half of endowments and foundations polled saying the markets will show high single-digit returns and their strong conviction that equities, both US and emerging markets, will be the top performers in the year ahead.”
Despite overall confidence in the markets, 50% of respondents noted that a slowdown in global growth poses the greatest single risk to investment performance, a moderate decrease from the 60% who gave the same answer in Q4, 2013. “Rising interest rates” (19%) replaced last quarter’s “US budget deficit / government shutdown” as the second greatest concern, and “Fed tapering” (13%) followed in third place, displacing concern about rising interest rates seen last quarter.
On the investment front, U.S. and emerging equities, followed by international equities, are believed to be among this year’s top performers by 60% of endowments and foundations.
Confidence in equities aside, there appears to be continued migration of capital from traditional equity and fixed income strategies to non-traditional assets. Only 4% of respondents indicated they are planning to increase exposure to domestic equities, while 81% indicated they are planning to allocate the same or more to hedge funds, specifically focusing on the multi-strategy, credit-linked and event-driven spaces.
Private equity continues to be among the top alternative investment picks of endowments and foundations: 38% of respondents (vs. 32% last quarter) plan to increase their allocation, and 34% are keeping their private equity investments level with last year. Specific sub-categories of private equity investments favored by respondents were split at 25% each between buyouts / growth equity, direct lending, and secondaries.
NEPC’s Q4 2013 survey noted that 41% of respondents planned to allocate more to real assets in 2014. In the current survey, when asked which real assets were their top choices, 34% said real estate, 24% selected energy, and 8% picked precious metals (specifically gold, gold mining and silver).