Steve Swenson – Pioneering Portfolio Management
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking a permanent injunction and disgorgement against Swensen’s estate and Crew Capital, the company he owned and ran, alleging they violated federal antifraud laws.
Stephen Romney Swensen passed from this life on June 6, 2022, leaving behind an immeasurable mark here on earth that will be missed greatly by many.
Early Life and Education
Steve was born and raised in Morris, Minnesota near Lake Minnewaska. He enjoyed spending his free time fishing, hunting and working part-time for North Country Ford of Shelton MN as well as socializing at coffee shops nearby and would often start conversations with random strangers.
Swensen was hired to manage endowment funds at numerous colleges and universities after his Yale model proved highly successful, yet during the 2008 financial crisis his strategy came into question when Yale Fund suffered a 24.6 percent loss, as did others that followed his guidelines. According to allegations made by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Swensen recruited investors for Crew Capital using some money for periodic payments of fictitious earnings to investors as part of a Ponzi-like scheme while using the remaining sum for personal expenses like gifts for his wife as well as personal expenses such as gifts for his mistresses or luxury items like private airplanes.
Swensen was widely recognized for his innovative approach to investing, with colleges and universities increasingly adopting his methods. Additionally, he published several books about portfolio management such as Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment.
He thanked his father for teaching him how to invest and for making the family feel important. They regularly enjoyed shared meals together and went camping or weekending trips together.
Swensen served at the Mayo Clinic as director for leadership and organization development, chief quality officer, department chair, and was instrumental in spearheading initiatives such as the Professional Burnout Initiative and Quality Academy. Additionally, he is an author as well as senior fellow of Institute for Healthcare Improvement – with an emphasis on finding joy in work.
Achievement and Honors
Swenson, a retired engineer, has spent over 50 years traversing rock and ice to lead expeditions on some of the world’s highest mountains. In 1990 he led one of two successful American expeditions to K2, and in 2012 reached Everest summit without using additional oxygen supplemental supply.
Author of three books and 207 articles, recipient of the Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award, president of two international societies and founder of Big Sky Group; additionally he has run or cross-country skied 39 marathons.
His work has revolutionized institutional asset management. His 2000 book, Pioneering Portfolio Management, detailed his investment philosophy: equity yields superior long-term returns; diversifying beyond publicly traded securities requires diversifying beyond simply index investing; patient investors have an edge; this philosophy was implemented at Yale’s endowment fund before later being adopted by MIT, Stanford, and Princeton.
Swensen developed lasting friendships through work and hill climbing. His cabin in Manila, Utah served as a gathering spot where many enjoyed breakfasts, fishing trips, four wheeling adventures, razor rides and razor rides with him – not forgetting his quick wit and humorous one-liners that kept everyone laughing!
He also deeply cared for his family. He was an outstanding father and husband who took immense pride in raising Madison Bailey, Alexis Markay, and Emilee Ann – proud parents all three! Camping trips to Mackay Idaho or weekend getaways to Park City were always enjoyed immensely by him and his beloved wife Janelle.
He was an accomplished mountaineer, having completed the first ascents of K2 and Sasser Kangri II without using oxygen supplementals, as well as being an accomplished private pilot. Federal investigators believe he used investors’ money for lavish lifestyle purposes by paying returns with it – an allegation being pursued against both Crew Capital Group LLC (his estate) and Crew Capital Group itself – with whom they allege misusing investor money to support lavish lifestyles while the Securities Exchange Commission seeks recovery of over $29 Million from both estate and Crew Capital Group LLC respectively.
He had an immense love for his family and was an outstanding husband, father and grandfather. He especially enjoyed spending time with his children at home, camping in Mackay Idaho or making weekend trips to Park City on weekends. Additionally, he loved golf, eating Sweetart Ropes and drinking Mexican Cokes – hobbies which he shared with them all.
Swensen was a trailblazer of endowment investing at Yale, expanding their portfolio beyond stocks and bonds to include hedge funds and timberlands – an innovation which helped their endowment become third best among US university endowments while significantly increasing financial aid for students.
According to the SEC, Crew Capital promised safe, high-return investments which he secretly controlled, yet did not disclose. Crew Capital paid an entity to maintain its legal status as a Nevada corporation while using mail forwarding services as cover to conceal its location.