Most Popular White Papers

As an open architecture firm, Greycourt’s only stock-in-trade is our intellectual capital. It is therefore important that Greycourt represent the cutting edge in every area that will have an important effect on the growth of our clients’ wealth. We happily share our knowledge with investors via our series of Greycourt White Papers. Although the white papers are not written with any specific client in mind, we believe that many of the issues addressed in these papers may be of interest to affluent families and demanding institutional investors.

Based upon requests from interested parties, the following are among the firm’s most popular white papers. We hope you find them useful.

Actively Passive

Despite the fact that over the past decade most long-only active equity managers have failed to produce attractive returns (after taxes, fees and inflation), investors continue to hire and hold these kinds of investments. Our latest white paper examines the decades of underperformance of active managers and possible explanations for the underperformance, as well as important considerations for investors that are pursuing passive and active equity investing in their portfolios.

Yale Versus Norway

Most investors are well aware of the exceptional track record compiled by Yale University under the leadership of CIO David Swensen. But we suspect that far fewer investors are familiar with the Norway Government Pension Fund (NGPF), which can fairly be viewed as the “anti-Yale.” The NGPF is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world and probably the most admired as well. In the attached paper we’ve taken a look at the interesting implications of these different models for family investors.

The End of History (Again): Why We May Be Living in a Permanent Financial Crisis

The financial crisis that began almost five years ago is still with us and we are still dominated by the events unfolding in Europe. What are some of the root causes of the crisis, and what is the future likely to hold for the Western democracies and for investor capital? In this white paper, Greycourt examines the evolution of the financial crisis, focusing specifically on Europe, and offers advice on how investors might best navigate the complex future we face.

No Gold Digging for Me

This paper examines gold’s history, discusses the myths and facts about gold and considers the reasons (both irrational and rational) why investors buy gold in the first place.

Private Equity Investing

Although private equity investing is not without its challenges, long-term historic returns argue strongly for exposure to this asset class for most significant investors. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the opportunities in private equity investing, identify the key risks, and outline a strategy for investing in private equity sensibly and profitably. This paper will be most useful to investors seeking to invest approximately $50 million or less in a diversified private equity portfolio.

A Modest Proposal: Let’s End Conflicts of Interest in the Wealth Advisory Business

The problem of financial conflicts of interest is a perfect example of our ability to understand a concept intellectually but fail to grasp its full significance. This white paper explores examples of conflicts we knew existed, but the consequences of which were monstrously underestimated.

Numeracy, Innumeracy and Hard Slogging

Working from a recent speech by John C. Bogle, founder and past CEO of The Vanguard Group, this paper demonstrates just how difficult it is for wealthy, taxable investors to grow their wealth at anything like the rates usually discussed by financial advisors.

The Challenge of Identifying Managers Who Will Outperform

The paper examines a couple of the principal issues associated with money managers. Specifically:

  • We analyze why it is so difficult to identify best-in-class managers in time to profit by investing with them.
  • We look at why it is that good past performance can be completely meaningless.
  • We identify the (mainly qualitative) characteristics of best-in-class managers.

Reinvigorating the Investment Committee: Introducing the Investment Committee Operating Manual

As a tool for the successful management of capital, the investment committee has been a serious disappointment. This paper discusses the reasons why investment committees tend to subtract, rather than add, value and proposes a new approach to the use of the investment committee.

Much Ado About Bonds

Many investors have expressed alarm over the impact that rising rates may have on their existing bond portfolios. In the enclosed white paper, Greycourt examines the impact of rate rises on bond values and evaluates several alternative strategies. We hope you find the white paper useful.

Hedge Funds Get “Swensened”

Many investors are steering clear of hedge funds because of recent, widely-reported scandals, lower-than-expected returns, and the drubbing hedge funds have taken from, among others, Yale’s David Swensen.

In Hedge Funds Get Swensened, Greycourt acknowledges the problems with hedge fund investing but also suggests that investors who lack a proper exposure to hedge funds or funds of funds may be shortchanging themselves

Modern Portfolio Theory and Quantum Mechanics

The year 2002 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harry Markowitz’ seminal paper on mean variance optimization, a then-obscure event which nonetheless inaugurated what we now know as modern portfolio theory (MPT). Over the following five decades, Markowitz and his followers have contributed enormously to our understanding of the behavior of capital markets and of the nature of risk and its relationship to investment returns. MPT has, in a broad way, allowed us to model how markets are likely to behave over very long periods of time, and has therefore allowed us to base the design of investment portfolios on principles that are at least in some fundamental way related to likely market behavior. For investors born after MPT concepts were incorporated into real-world investment portfolios, it’s hard to believe what a revolutionary change MPT has occasioned.

Hedge Fund Investing: The End of the Beginning

This white paper provides an overview of the hedge fund industry as it exists today, and identifies the myriad risks facing hedge fund investors, including the lack of transparency and an excess of capital chasing too few funds. The paper also illustrates how diversification techniques and careful selection can mitigate these risks.

Family Investment Partnerships

Many wealthy families are familiar with family limited partnerships used to discount the value of intra-family gifts. But limited partnerships can also be used as investment vehicles, and this strategy offers many advantages. This white paper discusses family investment partnerships, which represent a kind of private, family “mutual fund” for family members and other family units such as trusts or foundations.

Soft Dollars: Greycourt’s Position

Clients, money managers, investment bankers and brokers often ask why Greycourt adamantly refuses to accept soft dollar payments for its consulting services. This white paper explores the issue of soft dollar commissions and explains why we are opposed both to the practice and to accepting soft dollars as part of our fee.