The claims of superior risk-adjusted performance by the PE industry are exaggerated. Given their lack of liquidity, opaqueness, and greater use of leverage, it seems logical that investors should demand something like a 3-4% IRR premium. Yet, there is no evidence that the industry overall has been able to deliver that.
It is important to diversify the risks of private equity. This is best achieved by investing indirectly through a private equity fund rather than through direct investments in individual companies. Because most such funds typically limit their investments to a relatively small number, it is also prudent to diversify by investing in more than one fund. Unfortunately, the evidence we reviewed suggests that diversifying by investing in LPEs is not an effective strategy. And finally, top-notch funds are likely closed to most individual investors.
The illiquid nature of the asset class makes the demystifying of private equity returns difficult to achieve under any circumstances, but the framework presented in this article should move the reader closer to the goal.
Allocations to illiquid assets have become increasingly popular requiring asset managers to consider portfolio-wide liquidity characteristics. Although determining the price of illiquidity is a challenge for investors, the construction of a portfolio that includes liquidity constraints can be even more daunting. How do we optimize asset allocation with liquidity as a significant constraint on the portfolio?
As the following table demonstrates, since its inception in the 1970s, the private equity industry has grown significantly. According to Preqin data, there are now [...]
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