Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research may determine where and how companies appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Money is not a client of any investment adviser featured on this page. The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Money does not offer advisory services.

The campus of Harvard Business School and Harvard University, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The campus of Harvard Business School and Harvard University, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis/Getty Images

Ivy League endowments have a reputation for exotic investment strategies that pay off big. But, according to a new report, they’ve been outpaced in the past decade by a simple strategy long favored by mom-and-pop investors: putting 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds.

For years, large universities' investment offices were the envy of the asset management industry. Many of these adhere to the so-called Yale Model, pioneered by Yale's David Swensen starting in the early 2000s. The strategy eschews the traditional emphasis on stocks and bonds, instead focusing on expensive alternative investments, including everything from forest land to hedge funds. That's helped some endowments grow to monumental proportions: Harvard University’s endowment of $39.2 billion is the world’s largest, followed by Yale’s $29.4 billion.

Many investors, however, have questioned whether the high costs and illiquidity associated with the endowment model make sense. Helped along by one of the stock market's best runs, a humble 60/40 stock-bond portfolio built from low-cost index funds would have outperformed all Ivy endowments for the past 10 years through July, according to the new report by investment researcher Markov Processes International.

Over the past decade, Columbia and Princeton topped Ivy returns, delivering 8% annually; schools like Harvard and Cornell, on the other hand, lagged behind with returns of 4.5% and 4.8%, respectively. The 60/40 portfolio returned 8.1%, according to the study, which was earlier reported in investing industry trade publication Institutional Investor.

So is a 60/40 portfolio right for you? Most experts think that younger investors should have more stocks. The typical target-date fund -- all-in-one portfolios designed to serve as defaults in 401(k) plans -- has 70% to 80% in stocks for workers in their 30s and 40s. Still it's more evidence that when it comes to investing, some tried-and-true strategies are often tried and true for a reason.