Harvard investment fund leader receives $5.5m bonus

Harvard University

Harvard University paid N.P. “Narv” Narvekar a $5.5 million bonus in 2017 for improving the fortunes of the school’s massive but much-beleaguered endowment during his first full year on the job.

Narvekar’s compensation package as head of the world’s largest college endowment topped $9.3 million that year, including the bonus, according to tax filings that the university released Friday. Narvekar earned nearly $1 million in base pay and was reimbursed $2.75 million for money he forfeited at his previous employer when he came to Cambridge to run the Harvard Management Company.

In addition, the university also reported on its tax filing that it is on the hook to pay Narvekar at least $3.8 million for the next two years as part of his contract deal.


Narvekar has made strides in righting the $39 billion endowment after years of lackluster performance, Harvard treasurer Paul Finnegan said in a statement.

“The turnaround of HMC is a multi-year undertaking and the board of directors was impressed by the progress Narv made in his first year to position the endowment for future success,” Finnegan said.

Harvard relies on the returns from the endowment to finance much of its operations and to fund financial aid to students. But for years, the fund far underperformed rivals. Last year, under Narvekar’s leadership it posted a 10 percent return, which lagged other Ivy League institutions but was the highest for Harvard in four years.

Since he was hired in 2016, Narvekar has increased its investments in hedge funds, spun off its real estate team, shed some investments in timberland and farms, and turned to outside investment managers.

Narvekar, who came to Harvard from Columbia University, has also reorganized the management company with fewer investment specialists focused on certain types of assets and more general advisers.

“The trend is up and for that Narv is making Wall Street money,” said Charles Skorina, an executive recruiter in San Francisco who follows endowments and pensions.


Whether Narvekar will be successful long term depends on the fund posting returns that match or best Harvard’s rivals, Skorina said.

Harvard has consistently awarded its investment teams multimillion-dollar compensation packages. The previous head of the endowment, Stephen Blyth, earned $14.9 million in 2015.

Yale University’s longtime endowment chief David Swensen, who has produced some of the best returns for a university fund, earned more than $4.4 million in 2016, the latest data available.

As is common at elite universities, endowment employees at Harvard ranked among the highest paid people for 2017, although Narvekar, in fact, was not the highest paid employee that year. That title went to Daniel Cummings, the former head of real estate at the fund, who made more than $10 million. Cummings left Harvard in 2017 when he and his team moved to Bain Capital Real Estate.

Former Harvard president Drew Faust, meanwhile, received $1.7 million in 2017, including $961,952 in base pay and the remaining in retirement and deferred compensation and benefits, such as health insurance and housing. She also received a loan of $1 million from Harvard to build a house. Faust stepped down as president in the summer of 2018.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect the different time periods when Narvekar is scheduled to receive a portion of his compensation.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.