Harvard University is perhaps the most prestigious college in the U.S. As the oldest institution of higher learning in the country, Harvard was also the first corporation chartered in the country. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the university is home to roughly 14,500 students who hail from all over the world. But aside from the obvious academic prestige that Harvard holds, it also has its hands in investing. The Harvard Management Company is a wholly-owned branch of the university, and is in charge of handling the endowment, pension assets, working capital, and non-cash gifts for the entire university. The company was founded in 1974 and now manages approximately 11,000 funds that make up its endowment as a whole [see also ETFs For The “Next 11″ Economies].
The management company recently released its 13F filing which details the major holdings for the money it manages for the university. The company outlined approximately $1.5 billion in assets (out of an approximate total of $29 billion that it currently manages), and the majority of those assets were exchange traded funds. In fact, the top five holdings were all ETFs, and their allocations (just over $834 million) accounted for over half of the portfolio. The fund has a large number of ETF holdings through out, most of which tend to favor products from iShares and Van Eck. The majority of the ETFs held in the fund are dedicated to emerging markets, as ETFs offer unrivaled efficiency for investors seeking foreign market exposure [see also Emerging Market ETFs: Seven Factors Every Investor Should Consider].
The top five holdings features iShares emerging markets ETFs tracking the markets in Brazil (EWZ), China (FXI), South Korea (EWY), South Africa (EZA), and Mexico (EWW), though there are a number of other countries that the fund invests in through the exchange traded structure. It is obvious that the fund’s managers are comfortable gaining their international exposure using ETFs, as they are low-cost options that give the fund access to a variety of hard to reach markets. Harvard’s hefty investment in ETFs is just another stepping stone that marks the rising popularity of these investing tools. Introduced nearly 20 years ago, there are now roughly 1,100 funds on the market that are nearing $1 trillion in total combined assets, many of which, are quickly becoming vital additions to investors portfolios, even in some of the world’s most prestigious and successful institutions.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.