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As Pressure on OCIOs Mounts, Edgehill Endowment Partners Is Winding Down

“My suspicion is that a lot of people like investing money, and don’t think of this as a business.”

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Courtesy Photo

After 11 years in business, outsourced chief investment office provider Edgehill Endowment Partners is shutting down.

The firm is now in the process of offboarding clients, which include the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Chicago, St. John’s College, and Sewanee College, according to sources familiar with the matter. Edgehill was founded in 2013 by Nina Scherago, an alum of TIFF (an OCIO focused on non-profits), and Ellen Shuman, the former chief investment officer of Carnegie Corporation.

Edgehill Endowment currently manages $2 billion. The OCIO firm previously served the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which brought the management of its assets back inhouse in 2016.

“My north star has always been to do the right thing for institutions and their missions and to treat people with respect,” Scherago said in a statement. “I am proud of what Edgehill has accomplished over the past decade — of the team we built, the returns we delivered, and the portfolios we created with our clients’ best interests in mind.”

Scherago declined further comment on clients, the wind-down, and next steps.

“It’s so honorable what Nina is doing,” said a source familiar with the matter, who declined to speak on the record. “There’s a concentrated client base, and one client on the fence can put the whole business in jeopardy.”

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The source added that Scherago told clients and employees early on in the process to give clients time to run searches for new OCIO providers and for employees to find new roles. “She wanted to quietly do the right thing for both clients and employees,” the source added. “She didn’t have to do that. She’s shouldering all of the expenses and stresses.”

There are currently five people working at Edgehill, including Scherago. The firm has seen some executive-level attrition over the years, with Shuman stepping down in 2020 around the same time as former chief operating officer Matthew Kogan. Thad Glowacki, who was previously a partner at the firm, stepped down in 2019, and former managing director Craig Dessen left in September 2021.

Industry watchers have long expected a shakeout of OCIO players, especially for firms like Edgehill, which manage between $1 billion and $3 billion and have a small, concentrated client base.

“I’ve thought for ten years that there would be more consolidation,” said a person at an OCIO peer. “It feels like at least one shoe has dropped.”

The person pointed to Cerity’s acquisitions of Permit Capital Advisors and Agility’s OCIO firm, as well as Vanguard’s decision to sell its OCIO business to Mercer as signals that there is consolidation coming to the industry. They added that their firm has been approached about potential deals.

“Private equity has increased the competitive nature of these firms,” said Brad Alford, an OCIO search consultant at Alpha Capital Management. “These firms have deep pockets behind them for marketing and getting their name out there.” He added that Edgehill’s team is a “great group of people.”

Edgehill has been focusing on serving its present clients rather than growing its asset pool, three sources said. The OCIO provider said that they never saw Edgehill in a request for proposal process, which is the way most OCIO firms get hired.

“My suspicion is that a lot of people like investing money, and don’t think of this as a business,” the OCIO peer said. “It was a good technique before Goldman, Mercer, and others entered the market. I don’t think they wanted to get bigger.”

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