Inside Yale University’s Asset Management Master’s Program

  • Yale wants to train the next generation of investment managers with a new master’s program.
  • It is one of several money management programs launched at a unique moment for the industry.
  • Yale’s year-long program’s faculty director is a principal at AQR, a big quant fund manager.

When Toby Moskowitz joined Yale University’s faculty in 2016, a colleague suggested he meet with David Swensen, the renowned investor who ran the college’s endowment for more than 30 years until his death this May.

As they spoke over lunch, Swensen asked Moskowitz what he was working on. They wound up talking about their shared interest in starting a master’s program dedicated to asset management.

“In typical Swensen fashion, he said, ‘Do you want help with this? I would love to join you in this.’ I was like, are you kidding me? I’d been searching for a partner, let alone someone of his stature to help me with the curriculum,” Moskowitz, who would eventually serve as the program’s faculty director, told Insider in a recent


Zoom

call.  

Swensen and Moskowitz, a principal at the large quantitative fund manager AQR Capital Management and previously a longtime professor at the University of Chicago, hammered out plans for the program over the next three years. 

The result was Yale’s year-long master’s in asset management program, which launched this fall. Students in the program, who tend to have a heavy quantitative background, take courses on topics including asset pricing theory, machine learning, sustainable investing, quantitative investing, and private equity.

Yale’s program is unique among elite business schools, which typically tout master’s of business administration degrees covering a far more general swath of business topics. But several specialized graduate programs focused on both wealth and asset management have launched in recent years.

Columbia University now has a master’s in wealth management. And Olin Business School, at the Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri, launched an 18-month wealth and asset management track as part of its master’s of finance program in 2017. It now has 388 full-time students enrolled.

It reflects an industry, faced with rising expectations from clients and increased competition, that is seeking out top talent with a wider set of skills than in the past. Asset management firms are also increasingly marketing themselves as being part of a career path that offers a socially conscious generation a way to drive positive impact as fiduciaries. 

The new programs are being rolled out during a historic wealth transfer in the US, and wealth managers are scrambling to hire more advisors who can hold onto assets that young investors are set to inherit. Research provider Cerulli Associates estimates that older Americans are set to transfer $70 trillion in wealth between 2018 and 2042.

“The big success of this program is we’ll be able to place our students,” Moskowitz said. 

Plans for Yale’s program

Yale’s initial class for the program has 56 students that is split nearly evenly between men and women, a point of pride for Moskowitz. Tuition is $74,500, before fees and expenses like housing. 

Wesley Meyer, a student in Yale’s program, was working at Morgan Stanley trading corporate derivatives in 2019 when she decided to change course. Meyer, 29, told Insider she “wanted something that would allow me to give back, and have my work tied to something more philanthropic.” 

Mentors suggested that she consider a career in asset management. That year Meyer joined the team managing The Rockefeller University’s endowment in New York, and applied to Yale’s program.

James Huang is also enrolled in the program’s inaugural class. Huang, 28, left a role covering technology companies in Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division in Hong Kong to join a startup that was a client of his. Huang started engaging directly with investors to raise funds, and became more interested in investment management and markets. He is now currently studying to earn a chartered financial analyst designation, too. 

“I was looking for more, beyond the CFA,” he told Insider, adding that he is drawn to the idea that the asset management industry leaves it up to the individual to develop their own style and investing specialization. 

Moskowitz said Yale is considering adding a cryptocurrencies-focused class and more courses focused on venture capital and private equity to the program over time. He said one of Swensen’s beliefs, that managing money can be a way to “do good and do well at the same time,” is a thread that runs through the whole program — especially as a new generation of investors and consumers alike are seeking out ways to address societal issues they care about. 

“It’s not just a sideshow of a bunch of people gambling on how prices are going to move. That’s not what this is about. This is really about how to get resources to the right places to improve our world,” he said, referring to the industry generally. “So that’s the way I’d like to think about it.” 

https://www.businessinsider.com/yale-university-asset-management-masters-program-money-managers-industry-trends-2021-11

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