University of Michigan considers changing investment policy

Posted at 12:47 PM, Aug 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-04 13:04:11-04

University of Michigan officials are considering allowing financial administrators to make investment decisions outside of public meetings.

University officials announced the proposed change on Thursday. The Board of Regents currently considers investment moves at its monthly meetings. The proposal would move that responsibility to the investment office staff. The board would then only vote on broad guidelines for the university's investments.

The proposal comes as the university announced the findings of an independent review of its investment procedures.

PricewaterhouseCoopers found the university has sound financial controls for the $13 million managed by the university's Office of Investments. The accounting firm recommended the university implement stronger policies to avoid conflicts of interests and straighter oversight of the officer's travel and gift policy.

"The university, with rare exception, is functioning in accordance with a robust set of policies designed to assure responsible governance oversight of our investment activity," university President Mark Schlissel said in a news release. "But we also know we can continuously improve and will proceed quickly to implement the recommendations."

University officials said the proposed investment decision-making change isn't spurred by a recommendation from the audit, but is instead based on auditors noting how other peer universities operate.

"Other institutional investors, specifically peer universities, generally allow investment staff to execute investment-making decisions within specified guidelines established by a governing body," the auditors wrote. "In situations where investment decisions are approved by a governing body, approval by the full board of the university is not commonplace amongst industry peers."

Regent Katherine E. White, chair of the Board of Regents' Finance, Audit and Investments Committee, said the university "would consider amending its approach" to be more in line with common practices, according to a release.