Cornell Endowment Plots Office Move to NYC

The relocation will help attract more investment talent and place the fund “closer to world markets,” its CFO says.

Cornell University’s endowment plans to move its investment office to New York City by the end of next year, the university announced Thursday.

“The move is clearly in the long-term interest of Cornell and will enhance the office’s ability to serve the university.”The $6.1 billion fund and its 20 staff, led by new CIO Kenneth Miranda, are currently based on the university campus in Ithaca, New York. The move more than 200 miles south east is designed to attract more staff and place the fund “closer to the world capital markets,” said Chief Financial Officer Joanne DeStefano.

“The move is clearly in the long-term interest of Cornell and will enhance the office’s ability to serve the university,” added Miranda. “The full merits will take time to achieve, but the decision is extremely supportive of the goals of the office and university.”

The university is now looking for office space and liaising with existing staff to find out who is willing to relocate. The cost of the move and any increase in operating costs would be offset by higher endowment returns, DeStefano said.

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The move is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.

The Cornell endowment endured a tumultuous year in 2011, with then-CIO Michael Abbott exiting suddenly after just six months in charge. Another senior investment director, John Regan, left soon afterwards to start his own asset management company.

AJ Edwards helped to steady the ship after Abbott’s departure, and led the investment team for four years until his departure in March this year.

Miranda—a former head of the International Monetary Fund’s investment office—joined the Cornell endowment on July 1, succeeding Edwards. Miranda said at the time of his appointment that he aimed to “globalize the return streams of the endowment.”

“I tend to look at big changes, big themes, to identify market inefficiencies, growth bottlenecks, and forced selling pressure that tend to generate the environment for outsized returns,” Miranda said. “At the same time, I’m very focused on managing risk and the downside protection of the portfolio through quantitative techniques.”

Related: Cornell Endowment CIO to Depart & Cornell Picks IMF Investment Chief as CIO