JS Hope ’97, Colgate’s Chief Investment Officer
Although he is responsible for Colgate’s $850 million endowment, JS Hope ’97 is as cool as a cucumber.
He came back to his alma mater in November 2008 when he was hired as the university’s first dedicated director of investments. The endowment had surpassed $700 million in 2007, and Colgate needed a director to focus on managing the portfolio and building out an investment office. Hope has done so successfully, as proven by his promotion last July to chief investment officer. As such, he is the “manager of managers” — tracking the investment managers working on behalf of the university’s investment portfolio, and networking to source and build new relationships.
New employees often say that when you first join Colgate, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. Hope used that metaphor to describe his first year, and for him especially, it’s no exaggeration. “It was an interesting time to start as the financial markets were imploding,” he said. His understated assessment hints at Hope’s calm character and dry wit. As the markets and regulations were changing, he worked with the Board of Trustees’ Endowment Management and Finance Committee to lead the university through the market turmoil.
Over the years, Hope has worked with three committee chairmen: Dan Benton ’80, P’10, Barry Small ’76, and Eric Cole ’93. “They are all phenomenal; they give so much of their time,” Hope said. “The committee is a diverse group with expertise in various asset classes throughout the investment world. As an extension of that, there are many alumni who work in the investment industry, and they are always willing to help Colgate.”
Hope, who majored in economics, has numbers in his blood. His family owned an investment firm, JS Hope and Company, which operated through the Philadelphia Stock Exchange for more than a half century in northeast Pennsylvania. In his office, sketch drawings of the old exchange building contrast the large flat-screen TV — running across the bottom of which is the stock exchange ticker, but Hope explains that it doesn’t rule his day. “The endowment has a long-term horizon with a focus on intergenerational equity, so we try not to pay attention to that. If there is a big event, certainly, but we just want to make sure we are aware of everything that is going on.”
Hope admits that, in his job, the mountain of information “can get overwhelming,” but under his leadership, the office has leveraged technology as much as possible, implemented a junior analyst program, and utilizes multiple student interns each semester. “By doing that, we have tried to make the investment process as efficient as possible. That way, I don’t get as stressed out at night,” he said. “Plus, with two children, I have to turn off the switch at some point.”
One way Hope decompresses is through golf, which he’s been playing since age 6. He was a two-time all-Patriot League selection for the Raiders and captain in his senior year. In 2011 and 2012, he was a Seven Oaks club champion.
In general, he’s a die-hard sports fan. “I am a fountain of useless sports trivia — I can name the starting fives for far too many NBA teams from the ’80s.”
Hope and his family also are big supporters of the current Raiders. Not only do they attend numerous home games, but they also host teams for dinner. “The winter sports teams don’t get to go home much during break, so last year we had a barbecue for the women’s basketball team. It will hopefully be an annual tradition,” he explained, adding that he and his wife, Leigh, were planning to host multiple teams this season. “Those students give back in various ways to the community, so making them feel more welcome is a good thing.”
— Aleta Mayne; Photo by Andy Daddio