Beneficial investment organizations (BIOs)—such as public pension funds, endowments, and the investment arms of charitable organizations—are a cornerstone of American welfare and the foundation of our modern capitalist system. American BIOs manage tens of trillions of dollars in pursuit of their goals, and this financial capital serves to power the American economy. But hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted by BIOs every year due to insufficient portfolio transparency, which contributes to BIOs paying excessive fees, assuming unnecessary and uncompensated risks, and chronically underperforming. Insufficient BIO transparency thus harms not only their direct beneficiaries (e.g., retirees, universities and charities), but it also harms America. Due to this opacity, billions of investment dollars are artificially diverted away from long-term projects that could have widespread social and economic benefits. In short, poor transparency on portfolio attributes, such as costs and sustainability, prevents beneficial investment organizations from actually benefiting their stakeholders and America.
Increasing BIO transparency through enhanced reporting and disclosure could unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in beneficial capital for long-term projects that would aid large segments of American society. Improved transparency would allow stakeholders to better understand BIOs’ investment decisions and their long-term consequences, which could then underpin design changes (e.g., better governance and regulatory structures). Transparency is thus a catalyst to make BIOs more willing to change and improve how they invest, which will unlock capital for long-term, large-scale projects that America desperately needs and drive high risk-adjusted returns. Launching a Presidential Advisory Commission is the best first step for the Biden-Harris Administration to take to improve transparency among BIOs and unlock substantial volumes of long-term beneficial capital.