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Episode 27: William Spitz on Portfolio Management and Intelligent Investing

William Spitz on Portfolio Management and Intelligent Investing
William Spitz talks about intelligent portfolio management and presiding over Vanderbilt’s staggering ten-fold increase in endowment assets.

About William Spitz

There’s a lot of noise in the investment space—raving pundits, extreme headlines, and financial advertisements—and investors are susceptible. Long-term success requires learning to tune it out.

This week’s guest is William Spitz, the highly decorated former Treasurer and Vice Chancellor for Investments at Vanderbilt University and co-founder and principal of Diversified Trust.

In this episode, Bill reflects on being immersed in environments of influential and innovative financial thinkers during his MBA at the University of Chicago and in the intercollegiate, collaborative atmosphere of his early years of endowment investing at Vanderbilt. He provides a glimpse of the tremendous ten-fold growth of Vanderbilt’s endowment assets during his 1985–2007 tenure, highlighting the funds that contributed to such staggering growth.

Bill and Eric dive into evolving corporate values and the current supply chain crisis. Speaking on personal investing, Bill provides essential advice on harnessing your own knowledge and embracing tinkering while trusting your portfolio. Listen in to learn how Bill manages his own portfolio after his award-winning success in endowment asset management. 

  • (1:21) – A Renaissance man
  • (5:12) – University of Chicago and the early years
  • (9:57) – Return to Vanderbilt
  • (13:14) – The growth of the endowment
  • (16:20) – Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins
  • (18:25) – Longevity
  • (20:38) – ESG investing
  • (23:17) – The share buyback debate
  • (24:28) – Supply chains and inflation
  • (28:04) – Minimizing the damage caused by investment noise
  • (33:41) – Crypto: exchange vs. investment
  • (37:50) – Diversified Trust Company
  • (40:30) – “What do I know vs. the world?”
  • (43:00) – Signs of speculative excess
  • (44:25) – Barbell approach to personal portfolio

William Spitz is the co-founder and principal of Diversified Trust Company and serves on the Board of Directors of MassMutual Financial Group. From 1985 to 2007, he was Vanderbilt University’s Treasurer and Vice Chancellor for Investments, increasing the endowment ten-fold. He has subsequently received the Foundation & Endowment Money Management’s Lifetime Achievement Award, NACUBO’s Rodney H. Adams Award, and the Hirtle Callaghan Award of Investment Leadership. William earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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