Working for an Endowment/Foundation

I am currently working in the private wealth space, but might have an opportunity to join an endowment/foundation in an investing role. I think this could be a great career move but interested to hear thoughts. Assuming exits are to other endowments/foundations/OCIO type firms? I'm sure lots get an MBA as well. If anyone has any experience in the space or is currently in it I would really appreciate any opinions on this possible career move as well as some additional info on the space as a whole.

Comments (10)

Most Helpful
Sep 20, 2021 - 6:49pm

I do not work in endowments but do work in Asset Management. Interviewed for Endowments as well. 

I would say it is a career-positive move if you feel good about it overall. I know several colleagues who worked previously in Endowments move to Business School or LO AM. Exits are very largely to other endowments it seems tho. 

I don't have a ton of info on the space otherwise, but if you look through the AM forum, a good number of people are pretty willing to chat if you send them a DM. 

Jan 4, 2022 - 6:18pm

Another underrated exit opportunity from an endowment, foundation, or OCIO is on the client relationship/fundraising side of asset managers/private equity firms.  From my understanding, it can be quite lucrative as having experience "from the other side" can likely make it easier to empathize with prospective LPs.

Jan 4, 2022 - 8:39pm

Personally, I think the skill set is extremely different for front office work in PE/HF if your experience is just fund due diligence or light co-investment work at an E&F.  The more common pivot to PE that I see is client relationship side.  The exception to this rule is getting an MBA to rebrand yourself.

I think it is incredibly easy/common to go from IB/PE to endowment and frequently see MDs or other senior types join a large asset owner in a leadership position with absolutely zero fund due diligence experience.  Typically the only concern some asset owners have is if they can even afford someone from Wall Street! 

The other common path is to join a prestigious endowment is to work at a well regarded investment consultant with large E&F clients (consultants typically do not pay well for junior roles compared to other investment positions, you would be surprised).

  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 4, 2022 - 9:07pm

Appreciate the insight. If one's ultimate goal is PE/HF, how hard would it to be to lateral to a BB/EB from an endowment fund at the analyst level?

Jan 4, 2022 - 9:27pm

I think it would be very unusual but not absolutely impossible at the analyst level.  Considerations would be: prestige of the endowment, asset class being covered, and due diligence sophistication (sourcing own investments or re-underwriting consultant led ideas).  The more sophisticated/prestigious, the easier it would be to pivot. 

I do think it will be challenging though, and definitely the road less traveled.  It is much easier/common to go from PE/HF to E&F than vice versa.  I had one Morgan Stanley IB alum at an asset owner tell me analysts at an endowment are doing the same thing as what he did on Wall Street - admittedly, he is so far the only person I have met who had that opinion!

  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 11, 2022 - 1:12pm

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