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May 2013


The Outsourced Chief Investment Officer Model
One Size Does Not Fit All
In the outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) model (also known as “implemented consulting,”
“discretionary consulting,” or “delegated consulting”), an institution shifts discretionary authority to an
advisory firm to manage some or all of the investment functions typically performed by the investment
committee. The precise definition of this model varies as much as the name, making the size and
scope of the marketplace difficult to pin down.
The increasing popularity of this model is in part a response to the frustration investment committees
have felt amid a shifting environment in which portfolio management requires more resources. While
an OCIO offers an elegant solution, it is not a panacea for all the issues facing institutional investors,
and relinquishing all fiduciary oversight is not an option.
In this paper we describe the OCIO market and Callan’s approach, which acknowledges that each
investor faces unique challenges that require custom solutions. We offer two case studies and a series
of questions that might assist fund sponsors in weighing the appropriateness of the OCIO model for
their fund.

As investors reach for returns in a sometimes bruising market, they are adding private equity, hedge funds,
and other alternatives, leading to increasingly sophisticated—and complicated—portfolio monitoring and
management. Heightened regulatory and compliance requirements have further increased the time and
resources required to meet fiduciary responsibilities. This has led some investors to consider delegating
investment oversight, monitoring, and management duties.
The industry press regularly reports on a large and rapidly growing outsourced chief investment officer
(OCIO) market, and some fund sponsors wonder if this model would serve them better than the traditional
consulting model. Funds managed through an OCIO are beholden to the same challenging market environment and regulatory atmosphere, but the burden of balancing these challenges can be largely shifted from
the investment committee to the OCIO provider. Some funds find this solution meets their needs.

Knowledge. Experience. Integrity.

In this paper, we explain the OCIO model, describe its value, and provide a series of questions to help
fund sponsors contemplate whether outsourcing might be appropriate for them. We also compare Callan’s
traditional consulting model to our outsourcing approach.

Definition and Demand
In the OCIO model (also known as “implemented consulting,” “discretionary consulting,” or “delegated
consulting”), an institution shifts discretionary authority to an advisory firm to manage some or all of the
investment process. These functions would normally be performed by the investment committee, potentially with a consultant’s help.
The increasing popularity of this model is a response to the frustration investment committees have felt
amid a disconcertingly unfamiliar environment in which returns are hard to come by, risk is elevated, and
a glut of new investment vehicles have inundated the market. These elements have created an exceptionally challenging landscape in which complications (unlike returns) are in ample supply.
For example, Exhibit 1 depicts the degree to which the task of realizing a 7.5% return has become substantially more problematic over the past 15 years. Using capital market assumptions from 1996, we see
that a portfolio seeking a 7.5% return could allocate the vast majority of its assets to fixed income. Contrast
that with 2012, when a portfolio seeking the same return had to be far more diverse, with more than 80%
of assets allocated to riskier asset classes.

Exhibit 1
Asset Allocations for
Projected 7.5% Return

1996 Asset Allocation

2012 Asset Allocation
Broad U.S.
Equity 18%

Real Estate 7%

Equity 3%
Broad U.S.
Fixed Income

Private Equity 15%

Broad U.S.
Equity 34%

Real Estate 11%
Broad U.S.
Fixed Income 18%

Source: Callan

Equity 22%

The modern-day investment backdrop has become more global and intricate. At the same time, the in-house
talent required to oversee these more complex portfolios, manage risk, and ensure compliance is becoming
more expensive, which is particularly daunting in light of the constraints being placed on institutional budgets.
Key factors that are driving institutional interest in the OCIO model include:
1. Highly unpredictable and multifaceted capital markets
2. Limited investor resources vs. rising costs associated with maintaining in-house resources
3. Little margin for error in a low-return environment
4. Demand for expertise in uncorrelated assets, particularly alternative investments
5. Difficulty gaining exposure to best-in-class managers
6. Heightened attention on liabilities (for defined benefit plans)
7. Challenges in fulfilling fiduciary obligations given the presence of greater scrutiny and regulation
8. The proliferation of new financial instruments that must be vetted for their applicability


Interest in OCIO can be partially attributed to concerted marketing efforts deployed by actuarial and investment consulting firms, asset management firms, and start-ups (often created by former CIOs of large
institutional capital pools). All of these groups stand to benefit from the transfer of investment authority
from a diverse population of investment committees to a more concentrated group of professional entities
focused on the deployment of an OCIO business model.
Market Size and Scope
Estimates as to the size of the OCIO market vary widely, in part because the industry has yet to consistently define these relationships. Hence, identifying them is problematic. For example, strategic consulting
firm Casey Quirk recently estimated the 2012 OCIO market was $298 billion and projected it will grow to
$500 billion by 2016 (a compounded annual growth rate of 15%).1 Another firm, Spence Johnson, identified the market at $881 billion and projects growth to $1.5 trillion by 2015.2
It is difficult to say which of these figures is accurate, or if both are drastically overstated. Callan finds
that fund sponsors often decide to stay with traditional consulting when they learn certain functions
pertaining to fiduciary responsibility and liability cannot be delegated. Based on this, Callan feels the
ultimate adoption of OCIO may fall short of some industry analysts’ predictions.

Benefits of Outsourcing for Small-to-Mid-Sized Funds, Endowments, and Foundations
• A broader range of asset classes, managers,

• Enhanced access can break through biases

and strategies become available. Access to

smaller funds often have toward the home

alternatives such as real assets, hedge funds,

country and broad equities.

and private equity increases. This may help
diversify and strengthen portfolios.
• The consulting firm’s staff can handle risk

• An OCIO potentially creates more leverage in
negotiating fee arrangements. Many managers offer outsourced clients commingled

management, research, due diligence, and

accounts—or separately managed accounts

asset/liability modeling at levels smaller funds

with certain asset classes commingled—giving

typically cannot muster on their own.

smaller funds access to new asset classes,

• Rather than wait on an investment committee
that meets quarterly, an OCIO model allows
for rapid implementation of the OCIO’s

frequently at lower fees than they would
typically be charged. This includes emerging
markets, which have high custody costs that a
smaller fund could not typically afford.

1 Quirk, K. “The Outsourced CIO Movement,” Nov. 14, 2012.
2 Nauman, B. “OCIOs to Manage $1.5 Trillion by 2015: Study.” Jan. 8, 2013.

Knowledge. Experience. Integrity.


Small-to-mid-sized corporate defined benefit plans, other private funds, endowments, and foundations
are most likely to see the potential applicability of an OCIO model because these groups have fewer resources and stand to benefit from the economies it brings to the table.
Some larger plans have also seen value from an OCIO model; however, Callan has experienced very
limited interest from this group to date. We attribute this to the simple fact that larger organizations tend to
have the resources necessary to manage complexity and compliance issues in-house.
While they cannot change a fund’s capital market expectations, OCIO providers are likely able to devote
more time, be more flexible, and move more quickly than an investment committee that meets intermittently. Also, the OCIO provider may be more consistent than a committee, which can change portfolio
strategies along with membership seats. Maintaining an arm’s length means the OCIO provider should
have the objectivity to move the portfolio only when there is a need to do so.

Fiduciary Responsibility
An OCIO firm may become a 3(38) fiduciary—a reference to ERISA section 3(38)—in that the fund sponsor
effectively delegates the significant fiduciary responsibilities and liabilities of investment selection, monitoring, and replacement. When the OCIO organization has the discretion to make decisions for the fund, it also
takes over the legal culpability for those decisions from the fund sponsor, which can be attractive.
Giving discretionary authority to an OCIO firm that accepts fiduciary accountability for its investment decisions relieves the investment committee of this responsibility. However, this does not release the committee from its fiduciary responsibility for selection and oversight of the OCIO firm. The fund sponsor must still
set goals and objectives for the fund, and clearly communicate them to the OCIO provider. These remaining fiduciary responsibilities lead many fund sponsors to revisit the practicality of an OCIO arrangement.
Whereas in a traditional model the fund sponsor may focus on granular details, the responsibility changes
to strategic oversight and vendor management in an OCIO model. The role of the fund sponsor in an OCIO
arrangement does not disappear; rather, it simply changes to something different but equally essential.

Callan’s Approach to OCIO
Callan is pleased to work with investors in either capacity—traditional or OCIO—depending on which is
more appropriate for their individual needs.
Callan’s OCIO methodology is an extension of our existing practices, with the same emphasis on customized, long-term, strategic approaches that have simple structures, favor proven investments, and do not
try to time the market or be overly tactical. As with our traditional model, our OCIO practice leans on evaluation and implementation resources for support. Each client’s existing portfolio remains the starting point
for all investment decisions. Our belief that there are no one-size-fits-all strategies applies universally.


Callan’s traditional and OCIO processes are quite similar, save for a few subtleties as depicted in Exhibit 2.
Exhibit 2
Sample Comparison
of Traditional vs. OCIO

Traditional Consulting

OCIO Consulting

Plan’s Named Fiduciary

Investment Committee/Board

Callan and Investment Committee

Define Plan’s Objectives and

Investment Committee/Board

Investment Committee/Board

Investment Committee/Board

Callan and Investment Committee

Investment Committee/Board


Develop and Document
Investment Process



Contract and Negotiate with



Ongoing Operational
Management (rebalancing, fee



Education and Research






Callan is Extension of Staff

Callan is Proxy for Staff


Investment Decisions
Determine Strategic Asset
Allocation or Investment
Investment Structure;
Manager Selection,
Monitoring, and Termination
Operational Actions/

payment, wire transfers, etc.)

Ongoing Support

Source: Callan

In the example depicted in Exhibit 2, Callan has been asked by the fund sponsor to take on all of the
investment committee’s decision-making responsibilities, including asset allocation, investment structure,
manager hiring and firing, and fee negotiations. We are also responsible for opening, funding, and rebalancing accounts. (This is not indicative of all OCIO arrangements, as in certain circumstances Callan is
asked to assume only some of these responsibilities.)
The primary difference between the two models is the way in which decisions are made. In the OCIO
model, Callan actually serves as the client investment committee. At the outset, we form an in-house
investment committee on the client’s behalf. This committee consists of team members from our Fund
Sponsor Consulting and Trust Advisory Groups, as well as additional specialists when appropriate. The
committee is responsible for all aspects of the fiduciary process. It has full discretionary authority, meets
regularly, and votes formally on all investment decisions. Callan is responsible for implementing all decisions made by the committee.
In exchange for a higher level of fiduciary and operational responsibility, we charge a higher fee for OCIO
consulting than our traditional model. However, this increase can often be offset for the investor through
fee reductions we negotiate with the investment managers, custodians, and recordkeepers employed in
the implementation of the asset allocation.

Knowledge. Experience. Integrity.


Investment portfolios created under the OCIO model may look slightly different than those of Callan’s
traditional consulting clients given the unique OCIO environment. To illustrate, we next present two case
studies revealing how OCIO implementation varies depending on the investor’s needs.

Case Study 1: Private Foundation
This small, family-run foundation has limited resources and investment expertise, and sought a more
comprehensive advisement solution to manage its $400 million pool, which was funded with cash. The
foundation’s long-term objective is to achieve a rate of return that will enable it to meet its 5% annual
spending requirement, outpace inflation, and allow for fund growth.
Callan recommended a broad asset allocation that the foundation approved (Exhibit 3). Its unique investment structure maintains a long-term, strategic approach with an emphasis on liquidity and reasonable fees.
For these purposes, we use more high conviction, concentrated managers than are typically found in other
client portfolios.

Exhibit 3

Investment Style

Private Foundation
Asset Allocation

Fixed Income


Global Sovereign Debt


U.S. Investment Grade Credit


Absolute Return


Hedge Fund-of-Funds


Global Risk Parity




Real Estate


Core Property


Income & Growth




U.S. Equity


Large Cap High Conviction


Passive Russell 1000 Index


Large Cap High Conviction


Small Cap Value


Small/Mid Cap Core


Small Cap Growth


Non-U.S. Equity


Active Large Cap


High Conviction Large Cap


Small Cap Developed


Small Cap Emerging


Private Equity


Target Allocation






Case Study 2: Defined Contribution Plan
This defined contribution (DC) plan of $650 million was initially one of Callan’s traditional consulting clients.
When the firm acquired a company, it was unable to merge its DC plans due to a unique legal structure.
The prior plan fiduciaries sought an OCIO adviser to devote resources and expertise to address the new DC
plan. Callan has assumed the role of 3(38) fiduciary, and is responsible for all investment decisions. The fund
sponsor remains responsible for implementing these decisions, and we will assist staff in coordinating with
the recordkeeper and other service providers.
We conducted a fee study to evaluate existing administrative and investment fees and benchmark those
fees against peers. We negotiated recordkeeping fees and assisted the fund sponsor in evaluating the
most appropriate fee model (i.e., bundled vs. unbundled; fixed fees vs. asset-based fees). We also conducted an investment structure review, taking into account the following considerations:
• Streamlining the investment lineup
• Considering multi-manager options in several asset classes
• Including a blend of active and passive options
• Evaluating the applicability of institutional vehicles
We evaluated the best investment options relative to the DC plan’s needs, then identified best-in-class
managers with reasonable fees for each asset class. The resulting three-tiered fund lineup is displayed
in Exhibit 4.

Tier I
Asset Allocation Options

Tier II
Core Options

Tier III
Specialty Options

Capital Preservation
Money Market

Fixed Income

Real Assets/TIPS

Risk Spectrum

Active Short-Term
Active Core Plus

Target Date Funds
(Five-Year Increments)

Diversified Real Return

Large Cap Value Equity
Active Large Cap Value

Large Cap Core Equity

Passive Large Cap Core

Large Cap Growth Equity
Active Large Cap Growth

International Equity

Active International Equity

DC Three-Tiered
Fund Lineup


Exhibit 4

Small/Mid Cap Value Equity
Active Small/Mid Cap Equity

Self-Directed Brokerage
Account (SDBA)

Knowledge. Experience. Integrity.


Advantages and Disadvantages
Each fund is different; however, there are some broadly accepted pros and cons to the OCIO model.
• Renewed mission focus: Allowing institutions to focus on their core interests is in line with a general
trend among organizations to outsource functions that are not viewed as core competencies.
• Enhanced oversight: OCIO advisers are likely able to devote more time to portfolio monitoring and
oversight than an investment committee that meets quarterly.
• Reduced opportunity costs: The OCIO model enables an advisor to develop an investment concept
and execute it quickly. This creates greater potential to capture more upside of an opportunity and
protect on the downside, as opposed to an investment committee that meets quarterly and acts slowly
over time—frequently too late to fully take advantage of an opportunity.
• More sophisticated portfolio designs: If the investor makes all portfolio decisions, the overall strategic
asset allocation may be less sophisticated than if the advisor is charged with day-to-day management
• Expanded opportunity set: Outsourced portfolios tend to include more asset classes and tactical
adjustments, thus providing a broader array of return opportunities.
• Ceding control: Most (if not all) decision-making power is delegated in an OCIO model, thus investors
do not have the opportunity to scrutinize advisor recommendations. Many investors want more control
over their portfolios than is possible in an outsourced model.
• Increased costs: OCIO providers generally charge more for discretionary advice than traditional
consultants do to reflect the enhanced resources and the heightened fiduciary responsibilities they
assume in providing these services. Cost considerations can tip the scales in favor of a traditional
consulting model.
• Reduced investor education: While outsourced advisors offer educational services, there is no
doubt that investors can feel less informed in an OCIO model given their reduced proximity to the
inner-workings of the investment process.
• Risk of hiring a poor advisor: Turning the portfolio over to an advisor that is a poor match—or even
worse, an advisor that indulges in conflicts of interest—is an inherent risk of the OCIO model.

OCIO involves the outsourcing of investment oversight, monitoring, and management to independent
experts. Institutional investors that cannot afford the substantial in-house resources required to manage
the modern portfolio might consider implementing the OCIO model. However, OCIO is not a one-sizefits-all solution, nor a panacea for a challenging, low-return market environment.


The OCIO market will grow in the coming years, though the magnitude of the expansion may not meet
the high expectations set by some in the industry. Callan has thus far seen the greatest interest in this
model from small-to-mid-sized private funds, endowments, and foundations. Funds that are looking to
outsource their investment process will have the most success if they pursue a customized, high-quality
approach with an OCIO provider that recognizes their fund’s unique characteristics and carefully incorporates them into implementation.

Is OCIO Right for Your Fund?
Ten questions fiduciaries should ask themselves and their potential service providers as they
contemplate an OCIO arrangement:
1. Do the fund’s governing documents allow for the shifting of investment authority?
2. To what extent will the OCIO advisor acknowledge in writing the degree to which it is acting as a
fiduciary? Once this is established, what is the investment committee’s remaining liability?
3. While some firms might have established track records as consultants or advisors, this does
not necessarily mean they are qualified to act as discretionary managers. What are their
4. If the fund needed the help of consultants in the past, is that need negated by the OCIO
5. In the event the traditional consultant is being displaced, is there a third party that can perform due
diligence on the OCIO advisor under consideration? What is the related cost?
6. If the fund’s traditional consultant stands to become its new OCIO advisor, what explanations can
the consultant give as to how the firm manages against potential conflicts of interest? Do they
have processes in place that consistently protect against these conflicts arising?
7. Will investment managers contract with the fund or the OCIO? What exclusions from liability will
managers seek from the fund for relying on the direction of the OCIO?
8. How will the investment committee evaluate the performance of the OCIO adviser? What
benchmarks or other indicators will they use?
9. Who will manage the fund’s investment policy? How must the fund’s existing investment policy
statement be amended to acknowledge the delegation of authority to the OCIO?
10. Given that the OCIO advisor will be assuming greater responsibility than a traditional consultant,
what new expenses will be associated with a switch to this model?

Knowledge. Experience. Integrity.


Authored by Callan Associates Inc.
If you have any questions or comments, please email
About Callan Associates
Founded in 1973, Callan Associates Inc. is one of the largest independently owned investment consulting
firms in the country. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the firm provides research, education,
decision support, and advice to a broad array of institutional investors through four distinct lines of business: Fund Sponsor Consulting, Independent Adviser Group, Institutional Consulting Group, and the
Trust Advisory Group. Callan employs more than 170 people and maintains four regional offices located
in Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, and Summit, N.J. For more information, visit
About the Callan Investments Institute
The Callan Investments Institute, established in 1980, is a source of continuing education for those in
the institutional investment community. The Institute conducts conferences and workshops and provides
published research, surveys, and newsletters. The Institute strives to present the most timely and relevant
research and education available so our clients and our associates stay abreast of important trends in the
investments industry.

© 2013 Callan Associates Inc.
Certain information herein has been compiled by Callan and is based on information provided by a variety of sources believed to be
reliable for which Callan has not necessarily verified the accuracy or completeness of or updated. This report is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice on any matter. Any investment decision you make on the basis of this
report is your sole responsibility. You should consult with legal and tax advisers before applying any of this information to your particular
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