Rep. Cleaver Introduces Legislation to Bring Transparency, Equal Opportunity to Management of College and University Endowments
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) continued his push for greater accountability to diversity and inclusion in the trillion-dollar asset management industry with the introduction of the Endowment Transparency Act of 2022. Asset managers manage funds for others, such as individuals, organizations, and institutions, and invest college and university endowment assets which collectively total more than $821 billion. Responsive to Rep. Cleaver’s inquiry into the lack of diversity among college and university endowment managers in 2020, the Endowment Transparency Act would support efforts to ensure colleges and universities are providing opportunities to women and minority asset managers by mandating transparency and standardizing data collection. In a similar inquiry of endowments done by the Knight Foundation this year, only 16 of the 50 colleges and universities surveyed elected to disclose the percent of endowment assets managed by diverse-owned firms.
“After the Knight Foundation released a report showing that diverse-owned asset management firms manage only 1.4% of the $82 trillion asset management industry, I immediately began seeking ways in which Congress could hold actors accountable to opening doors for the numerous, high-performing firms headed by women and minority managers who have been historically excluded. Surveys have obtained important diversity data on the endowment managers of colleges and universities, who help manage hundreds of billions in endowment funds, and shed light on the variation in efforts to provide opportunity to diverse-owned firms,” said Rep. Cleaver. “While some institutions have been happy to share data on their efforts to do business with women and minority managers, others are unforthcoming or less than thrilled to make public their numbers. For that reason, and to push for greater opportunity in the American economic system, I introduced the Endowment Transparency Act to require publicly subsidized higher education institutions to report on this critically important issue.”
“Rep. Cleaver continues to be the congressional leader in the effort to improve diversity in the realm of endowment management,” said Robert Raben, Executive Director of the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative. “He pushed a critical mass of universities to release their numbers, but, regrettably, they all obfuscated, unwilling to tell the truth that with hundreds of billions of dollars of money to manage, they are only working with handfuls of Black, Latino, Asian American or women managers. With the introduction of this legislation, Rep Cleaver’s leadership demonstrates a stark contrast to these universities, whose charge of fostering academic excellence is, ostensibly, meant to be achieved with integrity.”
“We appreciate Congressman Cleaver’s bill. Many of these institutions enjoy certain public support including taxpayer subsidies and research dollars. Thus, it is appropriate to mandate the expansion of their manager universe to include diverse firms. Most importantly, it ensures they are truly picking some of the best managers, many that are currently ineligible for hire because of meaningless artificial barriers of entry,” said Gilbert Garcia, Diversity & Inclusion subcommittee Chair of the SEC’s Asset Management Advisory Committee (AMAC) and recent appointee to the Treasury Advisory Committee of Racial Justice.
“The National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), the premier Association advocating for the full inclusion of minorities and women in the Financial Services industry, fully supports the ‘Endowment Transparency Act’ introduced by Congressman Cleaver, calling for the amendment of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require annual reporting on assets of higher education institutions. For years, the NASP organization has championed the reporting of the total assets of higher ed institutions by investment advisors in order to quantify the work that is being performed by minority and women-owned firms. The adoption of this legislation will go a long way in addressing the issues of the lack of business diversity in higher education,” said Ronald C. Parker, President and CEO, National Association of Securities Professionals.
“We at Ariel Investments applaud Congressman Emanuel Cleaver for his leadership to advance business diversity among colleges and universities. These anchor institutions are essential stewards of taxpayer funds as well as the trust and confidence of the communities they serve. They must do better when it comes to full-scale business diversity – not just supply chain diversity. Hiring minority owned professional services companies across sectors can support their range of operational needs. Black and Brown companies need both capital and customers to thrive. This legislation will help demonstrate through clear annual reporting whether Black and Brown companies are getting the opportunities they deserve. We hope it gains bipartisan support and Congress passes it before year end.” – Ariel Investments, LLC, founded by John W. Rogers, Jr.
“It is particularly important that the Congressman is mandating that this information become public and defining diversity at more than 50% diverse-owned. Presently, there are too many efforts to lower the threshold of a diverse firm’s definition to as low as 25% diverse-owned. This is a veiled attempt to move the goal post closer to inflate one’s diversity manager progress. Making the data publicly available is the only way to change past behavior,” said Ruby Munoz Dang, a 27-year industry veteran and senior partner of Garcia Hamilton, the largest Hispanic firm in the country.
In 2020, Reps. Cleaver and Joseph P. Kennedy, III surveyed the 25 colleges and universities with the largest endowments about their utilization of diverse-owned asset management firms. Every institution, except for the University of Notre Dame, provided at least some level of information on the data and practices used to ensure diversity and inclusion for the asset managers overseeing their enormous endowments. While some institutions, such as the University of California, track and disclosed investments with women- and minority-owned firms, others did not appear to have ever adopted policies or practices to address potential biases in the selection of asset managers.
Considering college and university endowments are subsidized by the federal government via tax exemptions in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)3, and the federal government’s interest in remedying the legacy of exclusion in the financial services industry, Rep. Cleaver introduced the Endowment Transparency Act of 2022 this week. The legislation would provide public transparency and accountability for diversity and inclusion in the management of more than $821 billion in assets from higher education endowments by:
- Amending the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require information about investments with women- and minority-owned firms to be included in other data annually collected from colleges and universities;
- Requiring the Minority Business Development Agency to publish a report, to be updated every two years, recommending legislative changes and best practices for substantially increasing the use of women- and minority-owned firms in higher education investment and bond transactions; and
- Authorizing a conference, every five years, which shall convene institutions of higher education and investment advisors, firms, and consultants to develop professional networks and increase the visibility of business opportunities.
“In the year 2022, it is simply unacceptable that nearly 99% of assets controlled by the $82 trillion asset management industry—which influence where, when, and with what segments of the economy to invest—are overseen by White men, when we know that there are qualified women- and minority-owned firms that can fulfill these duties to the same, or even better, degree,” said Congressman Cleaver. “As colleges and universities tout their efforts to diversify at every level, from the student body to the faculty and staff, I believe they are a perfect place to encourage greater opportunity in this intractable industry—and the Endowment Transparency Act is an important step in that process.”
Official text of the Endowment Transparency Act is available here.
A fact sheet on the Endowment Transparency Act is available here.
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.