$3.5MM Endowment--Need Help

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Nov 2, 2010 3:30 pm

Our firm is about to present an RFP on a small, $3.5MM school endowment.  We are going up against ML, UBS, and the other big firms.  Can anyone give me insight as to what they would typically charge in fees to be the FA on the plan?

I was guessing about 130-150 bps.  That sound about right?

Nov 2, 2010 5:45 pm

You're dreaming.

Nov 2, 2010 5:56 pm

Who knows what you have to sell? ( Your autonomy, CFP, staying power, personal service).

How about three quarters of one percent, and your personal charm? I wouldn't bother for less, I wonder how many board meeting you'd have to go attend on dark Wednesday nights?

Wrap with ETFs, and sell insurance to all of the board members.

Nov 2, 2010 7:50 pm

I'm a former non profit exec (CFO) and reccommend that you go with UPIA expertise at the table with you.   I have experience with both firms you are up against. It is NOT the firm - IT WILL BE THE ADVISORY TEAM that wins the business.

Partner with internal partners with endowment experience if this is your first trip to the rodeo.  You may lose this opportunity - but gain great experience to go after your next one.

Be prepared with a sound Investment Policy Statement you have crafted, or ensure you have one they have prepared. If the BOD does not have one - ensure that they commit to develop one.  Your proposals and advice will then only have to run betweent the lines that Investment Policy sets up.

If you have time and access - read some of FEDERATEDs fiduciary materials. They have (in my opinion) one of the best crafted sets of tools to use with prospects and clients I've seen available. You don't have to use Federated products to read it.

 Expect to generate between 50 and 75 bps. Set up the service metric before you propose based on their fiscal year end and one or two select board meeting dates (ask if they have a Finance committee that you can work with rather than having to present to the whole board. If they don't have one, suggest starting one. Select the most interested - not the most financially savvy on the board and you sell to THEM. THEY then make reccommendations to the BOD. 

IE - get them selling for you) Learn what the terms are on the board and align with people with the longest terms. Nothing worse than having a BOD member or members turn over when you've sold them all and then have new blood come in wanting to challenge it and you lose the deal after a year!.

Remember, a strong executive director will run the board via influence. Yes, the board has fiduciary responsibility - but a good CEO is going to be able to influence behind the scenes which will help the board members feel they are making decisions that are their ideas.

If there is a CPA or Atty on the BOD, find out who they are leaning with or if they are going to bat for "their guy" because they get a lot of business from them. Strong CEO wil help a BOD prevent conflict of interest like that from emerging if you can tactfully bring it up.  You might ask before you present  (of the CEO or Board President)- Is there anyone else who will be presenting for this board that will force a board member to recuse themselves? If so, would it be beneficial for those people with a conflict of interest to not be present for my presentation to ensure the integrity of the process? 

Get onto GUIDESTAR. ORG and review the current and former 990 filings.  This may show you relationships that you can leverage to help you influence.  Current and former board members will all be listed as will current and former advisors, preparers in many cases.

Happy Hunting.

Kicking and Taking

Nov 3, 2010 9:13 am

Times and Kicking A,

Thank you for taking the time to give me some feedback.  I certainly plan on selling our strengths here at the firm.  However, I was hoping I could get a benchmark as to what others are charging.  I will look into the 990 and certainly do some more research as well.  Thanks again.