Read Kane Brenan's Annual CEO Letter, 2022/2023
TIFF’s 2021 Sustainability Report

TIFF’s 2021 Sustainability Report shares the way in which we capture ESG and DEI into our investment process and firm culture.  2021 was a year of transformational change: DEI retained the prominence gained in 2020 as managers and employers refined how they measure and evaluate DEI best practices.  Environmental considerations returned in the form of Net Zero pledges, as institutions and providers committed to no-carbon portfolios, typically by 2050. In many ways, the ambitions of investors has outpaced the ability of the market to meet the nature and scope of current demand. Keys to success are a strong framework,  common assumptions around goals and definitions, and a willingness to be flexible and accountable as the landscape evolves. At TIFF, sustainability is a core value. Our commitment is expressed through our investment process and principles, with responsibility for progress held throughout the firm. Our 2021 report card shows real advances from 2020, but we know we have room to improve. Read the report to see how we partner with members and managers in our continuous improvement approach.

TIFF Perspective on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

View of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

At TIFF, we are hopeful for a near-term peaceful resolution of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We are mindful of the dire humanitarian consequences on Ukraine and its people.

There are many significant moving pieces in this conflict – the actions of Putin and Russia, the heroic response of Zelensky and the Ukrainian people, the coordinated and unified response of Europe generally, the United States’ evolving role, the response from China, and, alarmingly, the first genuine threat of nuclear engagement in this century. Although the number of actors and complexity of this event contribute to a wide range of possible outcomes, we think a few implications are more likely than not. Below, we provide our assessment of market impact, our portfolio positioning, and our actions in response to the market conditions created by the invasion and subsequent developments.

Market Impact

Market reaction has been global and across asset classes. Equities generally have fallen, particularly in Europe as the prospect of a protracted conflict, higher energy prices, and possible recession weighs on stocks. Bonds have rallied, causing yields to drop. Oil has hit decade-high prices as buyers shun Russia, which is second globally behind Saudi Arabia in production. Gold and bitcoin have also rallied, albeit less so.

Market Expectations

Our internal optimist has us seeking a clear “best-case” scenario, but our internal realist sees few positive near-term repercussions.

Inflation has and will be negatively impacted, as, similar to our experience with COVID, supply chains are reworked and there is added demand for certain goods without commensurate increases in production. If all else were equal, this rise in inflation may force the Federal Reserve and other central banks to be even more hawkish than they have become in recent weeks.  However, all else is not equal.  Because of the wide range of outcomes, the market now perceives a bit slower retraction of accommodation as banks proceed cautiously and also are careful to forestall a “Lehman-like” moment.

Longer-term is even less predictable, though some developments seem likely. The European Union and individual European countries have indicated that they will vastly increase defense spending. Europe may also reduce its vulnerability to Russia by accelerating its transition to green energy and / or allowing oil production. The US may also allow for increased oil production to offset a sustained reduction of Russian oil imports. Two other possible secondary effects of economic sanctions: 1) intentional decoupling of connected economies to reduce interdependence; and 2) revisiting crypto as a possible workaround for sanctions and asset freezes. We do expect the reversal of some recent market trends. For example, if the US and / or Europe are able to wean themselves off Russian oil through production or alternate supply, the war may counterintuitively expedite oil’s ultimate decline.  Similarly, while near-term we see inflation increasing, dramatic expansion and duplication of capacity in energy, alternatives, food, etc., may ultimately lead to lower long-term inflation.

TIFF Exposure

Our direct exposure to Russia is de minimis, with approximately 0.5% of any given portfolio as of February 28.


We are monitoring the situation closely, staying in close contact with our managers, and avoiding making large, reactive moves.  We remain underweight bonds and have rebalanced back to slightly above our target for equities. We have explored and are considering inflation hedges, but are mindful of how expensive hedges have become in recent weeks. Our portfolios are well diversified, and we are prepared to adapt quickly as needed.



Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance.

There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of strategies will meet your investment objectives.

These materials are being provided for informational purposes only and constitute neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy securities. Opinions expressed herein are those of TIFF and are not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities.

These materials may contain forward-looking statements relating to future events. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” or “continue,” the negative of such terms or other comparable terminology. Although TIFF believes the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, future results cannot be guaranteed.

Perspectives Around Recent Market Volatility

Executive Summary:  Perspectives Around Recent Market Volatility
January 31, 2022

What happened?

Since the beginning of the year, the world’s major stock indices are down, and the United States indices in particular have suffered losses. From their early January highs, the All Country World index and the S&P 500 had fallen ~10%, while the Nasdaq composite had fallen ~15%, before each recovered slightly on January 28, 2022.

Although the downward moves are not severe within the context of normal stock market volatility, they appear so for two reasons. First, 2021 was particularly calm following the turbulent market events of 2020. As shown on Chart 1 below, the S&P 500 rose or fell more than 2% only seven times in 2021 versus 44 times in 2020. Moreover, Chart 2 shows that while realized volatility in 2021 was slightly below the 10-year average, it was significantly below the market volatility experienced in 2020. More broadly, the stock market tends to fall 10% every 1.5 to 2 years, so these recent moves only are unusual when comparing the stock market to particularly calm times. Second, underneath the headline indices, there is a notable rotation happening and pockets of truly astonishing capital destruction. For an example of a rotation, the S&P 500 Energy index has gained ~18% YTD while the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary index has lost ~13% YTD, compared to the last five years when energy stocks generated annualized losses of 2% and consumer discretionary stocks generated positive annualized returns of 16%. For examples of capital destruction, there are many, including meme stocks, SPACS, recent IPOs, retail favorites being cut in half, or worse. On the Nasdaq composite, the number of companies making 52-week lows versus 52-week highs currently has only been exceeded in March 2020 and late 2008 over the last 25 years.

Please click on the Download PDF button to read the full whitepaper.


Annual Letter from TIFF CEO, Kane Brenan 2021/2022

Year-End Review and 2022 Outlook


2021 Reflections
It has been another extraordinary year for the world, our country, our Members, and TIFF.  It has been remarkable for us all to have experienced the frequency and magnitudes of the highs and lows of the past year.  A quick reflection recalls the optimism over vaccines, the messy transfer of power in the United States, the all-too-brief periods of bipartisanship in Washington, the successive waves of COVID variants and consequences thereof, and the vigorous debates around schooling, diversity, opportunity, and intergenerational fairness, including around the national debt and the environment. As we write this letter, the omicron variant is returning us to a semi-locked down state, with gatherings and travel canceled by companies and families. It has been a tumultuous and exhausting year that potentially has changed forever the society in which we live.

Similar to the overall societal environment, the markets experienced an interesting mosaic of events, including the full-throttle emergence and subsequent fading of SPACs, the emergence and fading and re-emergence and re-fading and re-emergence, of meme stocks, cryptocurrencies, high-flying “EV” stocks, and growth/value differentials.  The market also saw for the first time in generations the return of inflation and the consequent Federal Reserve and other central bank “pivots.”  Yet through this turbulence, stock markets generally scaled new heights and rewarded patient investors.

As always, we tried to keep a steady head and a steady hand on the portfolios throughout these volatile periods.  As we conclude the year, we have several things for which to be grateful and several things of which to be proud.  Top of that list is our gratitude for your partnership and trust in allowing us to manage your assets.  We intend to continue to earn your trust.  Below, we set forth some of this past year’s developments and offer some perspectives on 2022.

Investment Highlights
Our main mission is to provide strong risk-adjusted investment results to help our Members to achieve their unique organizational goals.  By and large, we think the markets and our team delivered on that mission.

  • The equity markets continued to be driven materially higher by accommodative fiscal plans and central banks, and a recovering economic picture. These factors helped our Members achieve strong absolute returns. You can read more about the markets in our most recent 4th Quarter 2021 CIO Commentary.
  • TIFF generally delivered on behalf of our Members outperformance in most strategies against their respective benchmarks. Relative performance was remarkably strong through the first three quarters of the year, before giving back some excess returns in the fourth quarter.
  • Our asset allocation decisions, including generally underweighting bonds and staying fully- or slightly over-invested in risk assets, were strongly additive.
  • Our portfolio construction decisions, including the types of managers and strategies we chose, were generally beneficial to overall relative returns.
  • Our long-only equity managers had a more modest year with much of their year-to-date excess gains relinquished in the fourth quarter. The last few months of 2021 proved difficult for active managers focused on mid-cap and small-cap equity names, as well as certain high growth names, versus well-known large-cap indices.
  • Our private equity portfolio had its best historic overall returns, with numerous tremendous exits and distributions. The overall PE program distributed 40% more capital in 2021 than in any single prior year and had historically strong annual returns.
  • We continued to expand our private equity program, both in custom implementation as well as in new Member commitments. We believe that our private equity manager access and returns compare well with the market, and we are pleased that many agree with this view.
  • As in prior years, our team and our Board of Directors held vigorous debates on a myriad of topics throughout the year, including Chinese government bonds, access to venture capital managers, long-term expected returns from asset classes, and blockchain technology impact, among many others.

Service Highlights
While investment results remain our primary mission, we also believe that our Members greatly value customized advice, proactive service, and a culture that places Members first.  We made significant efforts to improve our exceptional service to our Members:

  • We eliminated entry and exit fees for the Multi-Asset Fund “MAF” mutual fund, and we helped our clients transfer assets from the Short-Term Fund “STF” to more efficient cash management solutions.
  • We expanded our Member call series, covering topics such as Private Equity Education, Board Governance in an OCIO World, and Public Relations and Internal/External Communications for Nonprofits.
  • We developed an educational training program for Members, addressing fundraising and development techniques. A number of you have chosen to join this program, which launches in full in January 2022.
  • We completed a comprehensive Member survey and are pleased to report the overall results were strong. While we have several capabilities to enhance based on your input, we are excited to relay that 100% of respondents were satisfied overall with TIFF as their OCIO, 98% were satisfied with TIFF’s service, and 96% were satisfied with TIFF’s investment results.  We will continue to strive to meet or exceed your expectations.
  • We continued to add customization capabilities in the areas of analysis and strategic asset allocation advice, private equity implementation, and impact investing.
  • A series of new Members joined TIFF throughout 2021. New Members, together with existing Members, added approximately $500mm in assets including committed capital for TIFF’s management. We are thrilled with this vote of confidence in our team, and we look forward to working hard to deliver on our mission for both our new and existing Members.

TIFF Organizational Highlights
TIFF continued to evolve as an organization to serve our Members well and to fortify our culture and stability.  We added a number of new talented individuals to our staff and Board.  We also focused on re-energizing a series of internal initiatives that we believe position TIFF for the future, and which include:

  • We continued to add to our investment team, including hiring Zhe Shen (hedge fund senior investor, formerly of The Portland House Group), Julia Zhan (ESG and long-only equities, formerly of Marsoft), and Aanya Parikh (private equity, promoted from TIFF summer intern). These individuals deepen our investment team and allow for more customization of managers and exposures.
  • We added a series of client-facing team members, including hiring Matt Hoehn (formerly Senior Director in Blackrock’s E&F OCIO group), Ellen Lieberman (formerly Managing Director at Clearbrook Global Advisors), Jerrol Charles (formerly Vice President of Institutional Investment Solutions at Truist), and Samantha Gross (formerly Senior Associate in Goldman Sachs OCIO group). Similar to the 2020 hiring of Jessica Portis, these new client-facing team members bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in working closely with Members on strategic asset allocation and customized portfolio construction.
  • We added Bola Olusanya to our Board. Bola has deep investment experience and is the CIO of The Nature Conservancy.  We look forward to our Members benefiting from his expertise in investing and environmental matters.
  • We bid farewell to Pam Peedin after four exceptional years of stewardship as a TIFF director. Pam has decided to return to full-time work in the industry and thus chose to step down from our Board.
  • We developed a series of internal processes which are critical to TIFF’s future and supportive of our team’s ongoing development, such as the refinement of our intern program, our diversity initiatives, the development of staff affinity groups, and the introduction of “state-of-the-art” personnel review and incentive schemes. We also celebrated our 30th year anniversary and welcomed back numerous former Board Members to thank them for their role in shaping TIFF’s mission and organization over the last 30 years.
  • We helped advance diversity in our industry in numerous ways, including through our internal policies, as well as our sharing of diversity checklists for 3rd party managers with the industry.
  • We returned to the office in October. Like you, we continue to attempt to balance the safety of our team with our desire to inculcate a strong esprit de corps. It is a challenge these days, but we are pleased to have gathered the team over the past few months.
  • We simplified our Mission Statement to better capture the motivations for our organization. Please see the end of this document for our revised Mission Statement

Our Focus in 2022
We are excited about the possibilities in 2022.  We believe that we strengthened an already strong team in 2021.  We expect the team, to accomplish much in 2022, including:

  • Continuing strong investment outperformance. We hope to continue to design portfolios with capable underlying managers, to beat benchmarks. We will continue to use our Board as a resource in this effort, even as we expand our own team.
  • Systematize a number of processes around customization for our Members. Those processes include research, thought leadership, and investment frameworks.
  • Exercise a louder voice on important matters to our Members and society at large, including the environment, diversity, and other public policy issues, such as education and fiscal responsibility.
  • Enhance our Member experience, particularly vis-à-vis technology. Notably, we do not expect to expand our call series much further beyond its current breadth as we have heard from you that the current offering roughly strikes the appropriate balance between being useful and not overwhelming.
  • We are looking forward to rolling out the TIFF Fundraising Symposium alongside the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute. This four-part symposium begins in February 2022 and will wrap up in May 2022.
  • We are also hopeful that many of our Members, partners, and friends of TIFF will join us at our 2022 Investment Forum planned for November 9-10, 2022 in Boston, MA. More details to come.
  • Expand:
    • Our pension advice capabilities. A number of organizations that manage nonprofit capital also have pension assets, and they have requested that we manage both.  We expect to be able to do so this more fully this year.
    • Our private asset capabilities. We continue to believe that private markets provide some of the best opportunities for long-term capital appreciation. We acknowledge that similar to public markets, private market prices have appreciated in the last few years, but we believe the sectors in which we predominantly invest have stayed less efficient, in relative terms. We also believe that we have excess capacity in certain hard-to-access managers and are excited to allow our Members to benefit from this access.

As we enter 2022, we acknowledge some things are in our control and some are not.  We expect to be able to continue our strong investment results – this is the number one focus of the investment team each and every day. We also will continue our focus on our service and advice capabilities.  But, we are merely hopeful that 2022 brings some break in the COVID virus and that we will be able to once again engage with you in person and bring our team together.  We wish you a safe, prosperous, and meaningful 2022.


C. Kane Brenan


TIFF’s Mission Statement

TIFF seeks to be the best OCIO to the nonprofit community by:

  • Assisting endowments and foundations in constructing custom investment solutions that support expenditures while preserving long-term purchasing power
  • Delivering strong and transparent investment returns that exceed client-specific benchmarks
  • Providing investment-related services and broader support services to nonprofits to help them fulfill their organization’s mission
  • Aligning our culture with that of the nonprofit community and broadening our impact on society


Past performance does not guarantee future results.

All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.

Not all strategies are appropriate for all investors. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of strategies will meet your investment objectives.

This communication is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or a guarantee of future results. This communication also does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy interests in any particular security, including interests in any TIFF investment vehicle. This communication may include “forward-looking statements,” such as information about possible or assumed investment returns or general economic conditions. Actual results may differ materially from the information included in this communication and no information in this communication will be updated to reflect actual results or changes in expectations.

TIFF Investment Management Hires Zhe Shen as Director of Diversifying Strategies Group

Hiring of Shen marks seventh senior hire in 2021 further bolstering TIFF’s investment capabilities

TIFF Investment Management is pleased to announce that it has hired Zhe Shen as a Director of the Diversifying Strategies group. In this role, Shen will join a team responsible for evaluating and selecting a global portfolio of diverse managers expected to provide positive returns exceeding bonds and portfolio diversification while maintaining approximately a 0.3 beta to the equity market.

Shen joins TIFF from Portland House Partners where he was a Portfolio Manager on two external funds, an alternative portfolio, and a long/short equity portfolio which reached $1 billion in market value at their peak. Prior to his tenure at Portland House, Zhe was at AllianceBernstein and Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he held positions in research and business analysis.

“We are delighted to welcome Zhe to TIFF,” said Jay Willoughby, Chief Investment Officer of TIFF. “Zhe will be a valuable member of our diversifying strategies investment team.  The combination of Zhe’s strong analytical skillset and broad investment experience make him an ideal addition to the team.”

Born and raised in China, Shen earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has earned the CFA designation.