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Behind the best performing endowment funds are investment committees stacked with professional investors in alternative asset management, according to new research from the University of North Carolina and University of Virginia.

Board expertise within alternatives broadly and private markets specifically was proven to lead to higher performance among endowments, Matteo Binfaré and Gregory Brown of the University of North Carolina, Robert Harris at the University of Virginia, and UNC’s Christian Lundblad found in a working paper.

The presence of these alternative investment professionals on an endowment’s investment committee was linked to higher allocations to alternatives and better manager selection within the specific asset classes represented on a fund’s board.

“Even controlling for benchmarks of average performance in alternative assets, higher expertise produces higher returns,” the authors wrote.