Our focus at the foundation is Delaware’s quality of life – now and in the future. And to make sure we make a difference, we mind many different aspects of our knitting – critical among them is investment of the charitable funds entrusted to us by generous donors. Returns for our portfolio over the most recent 12 months have been strong, but the long-term performance convinced us to review the entire investment structure.
That’s why we are terribly excited about our just-announced transition to SEI as our new investment partner. Beginning March 1, SEI is now managing DCF’s core investment portfolio, though that simple statement doesn’t do the new partnership justice.
SEI is managing our core portfolio. But SEI is also working with the DCF Investment Committee and staff to develop a set of new investment pools, so that fundholders who wish to pursue a different investment strategy have choices. That process should result in some new options before the middle of the year, with more to come.
We will also begin offering quarterly phone briefings from SEI, as well as occasional in-person meetings, during which fundholders can meet with DCF staff, investment committee, and the SEI team.
Even more significant, SEI joins us not as a traditional investment manager, but as the foundation’s outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO), a relatively new model for investing amongst foundations. This means that SEI will have day-to-day responsibility for ensuring that the DCF investment portfolio is managed most effectively. In other words, our partners at SEI will become an extension of the DCF’s staff, as opposed to a purely outside consultant. The firm will work directly with the staff and the DCF Investment Committee, which will now be free to focus on larger strategic questions, while SEI implements the policies.
The choice of SEI came after a months-long process, which included a review of 13 separate firms, in-person interviews with five firms, and site visits with two. The committee was unanimous in, and excited about, the choice of SEI. SEI, based just up the road in Oaks, Pa., manages more than $281 billion and works with 160+ nonprofit clients, including 25 community foundations. The team at SEI is simply first rate. You can read more about the firm here.
Every day at the foundation, we think about how to make a difference in Delaware. And because we do that through encouraging and supporting philanthropy, we are constantly assessing how to best service our many fundholders. We believe this change will be a big step in ensuring that DCF is the best option for philanthropists who want to make a difference in Delaware.