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Knight Diversity of Asset Managers Research Series

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VP/Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer
VP/Learning and Impact

It started with a tough question and an unacceptable answer.

In 2010, Knight Foundation leadership was asked how much of its multibillion-dollar endowment was invested with diverse-owned firms, meaning firms owned by women and people of color. When we looked at the data and the demographics, the results revealed that we were not living one of our values: our commitment to equitable, inclusive and engaged communities. Today, over one-third of our endowment, or about $1.07 billion, is managed by diverse-owned firms.

Now, as part of Knight’s commitment to increasing transparency and advancing diversity in the asset management industry, we ask that same tough question to others. Since 2017, the Knight Diversity of Asset Managers (KDAM) research series has looked at the state of diversity across the asset management industry. As of 2021, diverse-owned firms represent just 1.4% of U.S. based assets under management. In addition, diverse-owned firms perform at a level comparable to that of their predominantly white, male owned peers. 

Notably, while there is still more work to be done, the philanthropic sector is outpacing the rest of the financial industry: as of 2021, $1 out of every $6 dollars of U.S.-based investments by foundations examined in the 2021 Knight Diversity of Asset Managers: Philanthropy study is managed by diverse-owned firms. 

In 2022, we invited colleges and universities to participate in our research.   Knight Diversity of Asset Managers Research Series: Higher Education, Interim Release shares partial results from our ongoing research into the diversity of higher education’s asset managers, because just 16 of the nation’s wealthiest 50 colleges and universities have provided data for the study so far.


Recent Press Mentions

press mention
Institutional Investor

Researchers Set Out to Determine How Much Endowments Invest With Diverse Managers. Most Refused to Participate.

The Knight Foundation surveyed 50 of the wealthiest college and university endowments on manager diversity — with limited success.
June 30, 2022
Researchers Set Out to Determine How Much Endowments Invest With Diverse Managers. Most Refused to Participate.
press mention

Top Endowments Decline to Disclose Asset Manager Diversity Data

A majority of the richest public and private universities declined to disclose the diversity of the investment firms that help manage their endowments.
June 30, 2022
Top Endowments Decline to Disclose Asset Manager Diversity Data
Learning and Impact
press mention
Pensions & Investments

Manager diversity data lacking at major endowments – Knight Foundation

Only 16 of the 50 wealthiest U.S. universities shared data about the diversity stats of asset management firms managing their endowment assets.
June 30, 2022
Manager diversity data lacking at major endowments – Knight Foundation
Learning and Impact
press mention
FIN News

Research Vital To Presenting Diverse Manager Disparities: Knight Foundation – FIN News

The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation has been at the forefront of bringing valuable data to the discussion around diversity within the asset management space – work that has involved tremendous introspection and a commitment to transparency.
June 20, 2022
Research Vital To Presenting Diverse Manager Disparities: Knight Foundation – FIN News

Past Research

report

Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy

A study to assess the representation of women and racial or ethnic minorities among investment firms used by the country’s top 50 charitable foundations For a decade, Knight Foundation has been intentional about identifying high quality, diversely-owned asset managers when investing its endowment. In response to frequent questions from a variety of stakeholders into the […]

February 12, 2020
Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy
report

Diversifying Investments: A Study of Ownership Diversity and Performance in the Asset Management Industry

Research across a multitude of fields and industries has identified the potential economic and social benefits of diversity. Yet the asset management industry continues to struggle with a lack of diversity. Research studies and articles have consistently documented the low level of representation by women and racial/ethnic minorities among asset managers. Analyzing and exploring diversity […]

January 28, 2019
Diversifying Investments: A Study of Ownership Diversity and Performance in the Asset Management Industry
report

Diversifying Investments

A study of ownership diversity in the asset management industry

May 3, 2017
Diversifying Investments

Past Articles

Learning and Impact
article

Casey Family Programs investment initiatives on diversity

On September 30, 2021, Knight Foundation released findings from a study assessing the representation of investment firms owned by women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups in the United States among investment firms used by the country’s top 55 charitable foundations in terms of total asset size. View the full report here and […]

September 30, 2021
Casey Family Programs investment initiatives on diversity
Learning and Impact
article

To increase the hiring of diverse asset managers, foundations must lead by example

“When you know better, do better.” These wise words from the late Maya Angelou reflect Knight’s progress and commitment to identify diverse-owned asset managers when investing its endowment. In 2010, our CEO was asked how much of Knight’s $2.1 billion endowment was managed by firms owned by women or minorities. We looked it up. Given our […]

September 30, 2021
To increase the hiring of diverse asset managers, foundations must lead by example
Learning and Impact
article

A Snapshot of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at the Nation’s Largest Health Foundation

On September 30, 2021, Knight Foundation released findings from a study assessing the representation of investment firms owned by women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups in the United States among investment firms used by the country’s top 55 charitable foundations in terms of total asset size. View the full report here and […]

September 30, 2021
A Snapshot of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at the Nation’s Largest Health Foundation
Learning and Impact
article

Using Our Investment Tools to Diversify the Investment Industry

On September 30, 2021, Knight Foundation released findings from a study assessing the representation of investment firms owned by women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups in the United States among investment firms used by the country’s top 55 charitable foundations in terms of total asset size. View the full report here and […]

September 30, 2021
Using Our Investment Tools to Diversify the Investment Industry
Learning and Impact
article

What Gets Measured Gets Done: “The Three Ps” of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

On September 30, 2021, Knight Foundation released findings from a study assessing the representation of investment firms owned by women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups in the United States among investment firms used by the country’s top 55 charitable foundations in terms of total asset size. View the full report here and see the press […]

September 30, 2021
What Gets Measured Gets Done: “The Three Ps” of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
article

Aligning investments with our mission: Diversifying Investment Managers

Since its founding in 1940, the staff and trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund have increasingly recognized how our philanthropic efforts have influence beyond just grant dollars. The RBF, therefore, has taken the position that all its activities and resources must be utilized for meaningful progress toward its mission to advance social change, which contributes to a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.[…]
Aligning investments with our mission: Diversifying Investment Managers
article

Diversification can generate better returns

Eight years ago, Silicon Valley Community Foundation began examining the diversity of our staff, grantees, board members and our community, prompting us to also look closely at our investment portfolio. We discovered that it clearly lacked diversity. […]
Diversification can generate better returns
article

Investing in Diverse Asset Managers: A Performance Imperative

The investment team at Carnegie Corporation of New York is tasked with maximizing our endowment’s returns so that the grantmaking foundation established by Andrew Carnegie more than 100 years ago can fulfill its mission of doing “real and permanent good in this world.” […]
Investing in Diverse Asset Managers: A Performance Imperative
Learning and Impact
article

What Gets Measured Gets Done: “The Three Ps” of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

On September 30, 2021, Knight Foundation released findings from a study assessing the representation of investment firms owned by women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups in the United States among investment firms used by the country’s top 55 charitable foundations in terms of total asset size. View the full report here and see the press […]

September 30, 2021
What Gets Measured Gets Done: “The Three Ps” of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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