Much ink has been spilled on the growth of the outsourced chief investment officer industry — but Bank of America’s OCIO program has the numbers to back it up.
Over the past six years, the OCIO provider’s assets under management more than doubled, from $31 billion to $65 billion. In 2023 alone, the firm added 100 new endowment and foundation clients.
What’s particularly compelling about this growth is that it’s taken place organically. The industry has seen continuous growth in recent years, as endowments and foundations garner a pool of assets sizable enough to invest. In 2023, Bank of America looked at between 250 and 350 requests for proposals.
“What we’re seeing over the past 12 years is a steady increase in medium-to-large size organizations being much more open and starting to embrace OCIO,” said Bernie Reidy, managing director and leader of the firm’s endowment and foundation OCIO business. In December, Mercer announced that it would acquire Vanguard’s OCIO unit, a move that industry experts said could kick off a wave of M&A in the fragmented industry.
“Some of the industry is growing by acquisition, which is not uncommon,” said Reidy. “Ours is driven organically.”
Reidy joined the team from Commonfund in 2015, when OCIO was a significantly smaller portion of the bank’s business. Two years later, William Jarvis, who was heading up research at Commonfund, executing the annual NACUBO studies on performance, left for Bank of America as well. The two, along with their burgeoning team, worked to build on the existing OCIO program at the firm.
Reidy said that much of Bank of America’s OCIO work goes beyond building a strategic asset allocation and choosing investment managers. The firm works with boards to manage governance policy issues, grow their donor base, and train teams so they understand their investment needs.
Bank of America has seen a mix of new clients — some are outsourcing for the first time, while others are engaging in RFPs after five to seven years with their current OCIO provider. “Almost as a fiduciary matter, institutions say that even if we’re happy, we’ll do a RFI or RFP every five to seven years,” said Jarvis.
That has brought in new business for Bank of America. According to Reidy, the firm has seen significant growth in the southeastern United States, so much so that it has hired people to manage it.
Managing director Khalid Yasin joined the firm recently from PFM Asset Management, where he built up expertise on the OCIO industry. Yasin, along with recently-promoted Christina D’Elia, will cover the region in an effort to support Bank of America’s growth.
“We are always looking to grow responsibly,” Reidy said. “We spend a lot of time ensuring that we have the right ratio of staff for our clients.”