The University of Wisconsin Foundation is the official fundraising and gift-receiving organization for the University of Wisconsin–
Madison. As the university’s development and financial partner, the Foundation totals approximately $4 billion AUM and has established a diverse portfolio consisting of public equities, fixed income, and various alternative/private assets, including hedge funds, private equity, and private real estate.
Desiring to understand its portfolio’s aggregate exposures and risks, the Foundation’s Investment and Compliance Reporting staff needed transparency into underlying portfolio analytics and exposures for endowment portfolio holdings as a whole.
They also needed the ability to drill down into sub-portfolio and holdings within the endowment at the asset-class level. Historically, the Foundation had relied on various disparate analytic systems to achieve this transparency but no one solution was comprehensive enough across its portfolio’s various asset classes. Aggregating and analyzing data at a macro level for the entire endowment portfolio was an inefficient and tedious process. The team’s greatest challenge was ensuring data integrity and interpreting the data from various sources that relied on inconsistent methodologies.
To solve these challenges, the Foundation staff sought a technology provider that could serve as an extension of their own team. They needed a partner that could handle complicated data integration while offering sophisticated portfolio services and reporting capabilities. Portfolio services needed to be focused around data reconciliation and ensuring data integrity with a clearly defined workflow process. They required an industry leader with broad system capabilities, flexible reporting processes, and experience managing and integrating data for large multi-asset class portfolios.
For this large-scale implementation, the Foundation partnered with FactSet’s Professional Services team with plans to leverage its multi-asset class expertise and Managed Reporting offering. FactSet’s Managed Reporting solution allows clients to outsource monthly and quarterly reporting processes to FactSet, so they can focus on strategic initiatives while FactSet oversees
the creation, production, and distribution of their reports.
From the start, the Foundation looked to FactSet’s Managed Reporting team to help them develop high-quality portfolio and sub-portfolio reporting by implementing a consistent and repeatable process. Today, the Foundation team leverages FactSet’s reporting to complement the work they do to monitor existing external managers. The Foundation prioritizes contact with all managers regularly to understand their individual positioning and outlooks. They rely on FactSet’s multi-asset class reporting to enhance their understanding of portfolio risks and exposures in both absolute and benchmark relative terms. FactSet’s reporting gives them the ability to aggregate the exposures of individual managers at the asset class or endowment level. The team gains a more comprehensive view of risk and positioning and can drill down into specific risk factors or exposures to understand the most important contributors or drivers of those exposures. They are then able to validate whether the information they receive from their managers ultimately manifests in the portfolio exposures they expect.
The team also leverages FactSet’s multi-asset class reporting and analytics tools to communicate to their investment committee where specific investment risks lie across their portfolio. For example, FactSet’s fixed income scenario analysis allowed the Foundation to quantify how relative duration positioning versus the benchmark could be expected to generate a certain estimated
relative return under a given interest rate shock scenario.
From an equity perspective, FactSet’s Portfolio Analytics reports have enabled the Foundation staff to monitor the risk characteristics of its overall Public Equity portfolio and its individual managers at a glance. Analyzing changes to these characteristics over time has engendered more substantive conversations with investment managers. This process has transformed how the Foundation team analyzes its portfolio and shares meaningful insights with key stakeholders. FactSet’s Managed Reporting has allowed the Foundation to automate and simplify its compliance reporting process. Doing so saves the team many hours of work each quarter, while also making the process less susceptible to error. Like many institutional investors, the Foundation’s investment portfolios are governed by various guidelines as a way to control and monitor risk, and its regular compliance reporting process allows it to measure its exposures versus those guidelines. Prior to using FactSet for this process, the Foundation manually broke down individual manager portfolios according to those guidelines and aggregated exposures across managers to determine whether the overall portfolio met various guideline tests. Using FactSet, that intensive process has been replaced by an automated,
more reliable one.
The University of Wisconsin Foundation team says their experience with FactSet has been overwhelmingly positive, especially through their adoption and implementation of FactSet’s multi-asset class solution. They found the FactSet team to be accessible and responsive, working to troubleshoot problems and answer questions as they arise.
The Foundation’s portfolio analysis, data management, and reporting needs are complex. FactSet’s Managed Reporting team
has helped implement a solution that enables them to aggregate and analyze data from various sources, gain a transparent
view of risk and positioning, and report out to key stakeholders and constituents while reducing manual efforts. By entrusting
FactSet with their monthly and quarterly reporting and the delivery of report packs, Foundation team members have been able to refocus on more valuable activities and analysis instead of manual data management and reporting.