A Research-Driven Approach
Mason has served the investment management needs of leading institutions for over 25 years. Through a sophisticated and disciplined process, we create portfolios carefully designed to help each organization we serve realize its unique investment goals.
Investment Philosophy and Process
Our investment philosophy is based on long-term, strategic, asset allocation combined with strict rebalancing policies and a rigorous manager selection process. We do not engage in market timing, and we believe that there are no reliable methods to predict market trends.
We advise clients on the use of third-party mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, and private equity. We seek to be unbiased in our investment selection process and use no proprietary products.
Review Your Goals
- Goals and investment objectives
- Cash flows
- Spending requirements
We begin with a thorough review and analysis of your organization’s goals and investment objectives, spending policies, and expected cash flows. For organizations with existing portfolios, we review the current portfolio’s performance, allocation, investments, and compliance policy.
Create an Investment Policy
- Strategic asset allocation
- Risk & return management
- Investment/spending policy review
Based on your organization’s objectives, we craft a comprehensive investment policy statement and design a customized target allocation strategy with due diligence parameters to meet your organization’s specific risk/return requirements and spending policies.
Build Your Portfolio
- Manager review and selection
- Account set up and transactions
We evaluate and select investment managers that meet our stringent performance and cost requirements and align well with our target asset class allocations. We do not use proprietary products or third-party managers with hidden fees or expenses.
Monitor, Manage, & Report
- Manager performance
- Rebalancing process
- Performance reporting
- Education and training
- Donor development
We review each manager’s portfolio and performance monthly against our strict set of performance and qualitative criteria and replace managers when warranted. We typically review portfolios every two to three weeks and proactively rebalance to ensure they remain properly allocated.
Finally, we provide clear and transparent consolidated reporting, support for your investment and finance committees, and education for your board members.
Comprehensive Investment Management Services
One of the primary fiduciary roles your finance and investment committee plays is to implement and monitor compliance with your organization’s Investment Policy Statement (IPS). At the beginning of each new client relationship, our first responsibility as advisors is to get to know you as our client. The best way for us to do so is to review and analyze your existing IPS. By following our “best practices” outline for your organization’s IPS, we lead your committee through the process of review and possible rewrite. Our process includes:
- Challenging each element of the existing IPS to ensure that it reflects the organization’s objectives, tolerance for risk, commitments, and funding obligations.
- Leading a full IPS review and rewrite process by providing new language for the committee to review and approve, if appropriate.
- Attending each committee meeting prepared to answer questions and to recommend specific alternative courses of action supported by what we believe to be a rigorous analysis.
- Reviewing the existing IPS at least annually as part of our biennial plan.
Institutional spending policies specify the balance between appropriately funding today’s generation and protecting investment assets for tomorrow’s beneficiaries. Our Sustainable Withdrawal tools help us deepen our understanding of the potential ramifications of asset allocation and spending decisions. These tools help us assess this balance based on the following questions:
- What is my organization’s asset allocation strategy?
- Does our asset allocation strategy match our risk profile?
- How much can we withdraw or distribute from our portfolio each year?
- How should we calculate our withdrawal rate?
At Mason, we can help you formulate answers to each of these questions and reevaluate previous decisions. These decisions may have a profound influence on your ability to support your most important constituents.
We believe that asset allocation is the most significant contributor to successful portfolio performance, and it is at the core of our portfolio construction process.
Our institutional portfolios include as many as 15 asset classes diversified by objective and investment style. We use mean-variance analysis to analyze returns, standard deviations, and correlations over short and long time periods to optimize our portfolio allocations and align their risk/return profiles with each institution’s investment goals and objectives. Additionally, we stress test the portfolio and portfolio components over a variety of inflationary and interest rate environments and extreme market turbulence.
Our research supports adjusting target allocations based on long-term strategic considerations. We have found that taking a tactical approach and adjusting targets for shorter-term market considerations does not pay off for our clients in the long term.
As an independent firm with no proprietary products, we are free to search for solutions without the pressure to promote a certain fund or strategy. We utilize rigorous qualitative and quantitative screening to determine which third-party investment managers are most likely to reliably deliver the investment results required to meet the return expectations outlined in each client’s IPS.
In selecting investment managers, we employ a proprietary process that our research has shown may achieve superior results.
We begin the process with fund families versus specific asset classes. Our goal is not to find the “hottest” manager with the best trailing performance in a specific asset class. Rather, we attempt to find the best-performing fund families by analyzing the “aggregate investor’s experience” across the entire range of funds in each fund family. Once we have selected high performing fund families, we compare the relative strengths of their portfolios in each asset class to make our final fund selection.
Our research has shown that using a disciplined rebalancing policy that considers the risk-return benefits as well as the cost of rebalancing improves the performance of a multi-asset class portfolio while lowering volatility.
We proactively apply a strict rebalancing policy to institutional portfolios that includes:
- Specific allocation targets for each asset class.
- High-end and low-end tolerance bands.
- Minimum 15-day review frequency. *
- A well-defined trading strategy that enforces a “buy low” and “sell high” process when an asset class valuation moves outside its band.
* Applies to OCIO clients only.
It is critically important for an institution’s investment committee and board of directors to have clear and complete information regarding the performance of their investments. At Mason, our performance reporting is comprehensive and detailed. We show performance using an array of industry measures, applied at the total-portfolio level, asset-class level, and on a manager-by-manager basis.
For institutions utilizing one or more investment advisors in addition to Mason, our data aggregation and performance reporting service can pull data from your organization’s other advisors and provide a complete picture of your organization’s holdings.