On the verge of retirement, Bill Abt is now a big man on a small campus.
For years, this former beer company executive quietly guided Carthage College’s endowment. He didn’t run with the large-college crowd and pour cash into hedge funds or hard assets.
He stuck to the simplicity of using mostly low-cost index funds.
And somebody finally took notice.
In early May, the 71-year-old Abt and his strategy were featured by Bloomberg Businessweek. The article noted that Carthage’s returns “beat Harvard’s $37 billion endowment and most others.”
In 10 years through June 30, 2017, Carthage reported a 6.2% average annual return. During the same period, the article said, Harvard had a 4.4% average annual return, with results weighed down by losses in timber and farmland.
Carthage’s performance was in the top 10% nationwide, according to National Association of College and University Business Officers.
Since the article appeared, Abt has been overwhelmed.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “Half the people on campus here have emailed me, which is great. I’ve gotten calls from TV stations, wealth managers. I had a wealth manager ask me if I wanted to go into partnership with him.”