Top Performing Institutional Investors are Allocating 40% to Private Investments

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March 21, 2019

According to the latest research conducted by Cambridge Associates¹, top decile performing institutional investors have increased their private investment* allocations to a mean of 40%.

Private Investment Allocation

20% Pie Chart of Private Investment Allocations1998

40% Pie Chart of Private Investment Allocations2018

Private investments

*Private investments include non-venture private equity, venture capital, distressed securities (private equity structure), private real estate, private oil & gas/natural resources, timber, and other private investments.

Many of the world’s leading institutional investors allocate substantially to private investments.

Private Investment Allocations Columbia University


Private Investment Allocations Princeton University


Private Investment Allocations Yale University


Private Investment Allocations University of Texas


2Columbia University 2018 Financial Report, 3Princeton University Report 2017-2018, 4Yale News; 5University of Texas

The higher the allocation the better the return.

The average annualized return for a greater than 15% allocation was 8.1%, 160 basis points higher than the group with a less than 5% allocation.

20 year Average Return (%)

Scatter Chart for Private Investment Allocations

20 year Average Private Investment Allocations (%)

Private equity allocations under 5%

Private equity allocations between 5% and 15%

Private equity allocations over 15%

Source: Endowment and foundation data as reported to Cambridge Associates LLC.
Notes: Analysis includes 132 endowments and foundations that provided returns and beginning year asset allocation for each June 30 from 1998 to 2018. Subgroups are based on each institution’s 20-year average allocation to private investments. Solid lines are drawn where the median private investments allocation for the entire universe intersects with the median return for the entire universe.

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