A private equity fund is a pooled investment vehicle where the adviser make investments on behalf of the fund. As per the industry sources, total asset under management is around $4.5+ trillion as of Jan 2018. In the recent years, private equity is increasingly scrutinized because even the non-accredited/non-qualified investors are investing in private equity through their pension funds or insurance policies.
In the current competitive environment, managers are under huge pressure from investors, regulators and other peer managers. Investors and regulators are also pressing for the transparency in the following areas, but are not limited to:
- Accurate Information Disclosure
- Fees & Expense Allocation
- Fair Valuation Process
Accurate Information Disclosure
Regulators urge firms to provide accurate information about their offerings to allow investors to make informed decisions. Sophisticated investors often perform in-depth due-diligence before and after the investments by looking at the strategy of the fund, fund track record and exposure by geography/sector. Misleading or incorrect information, will lead to higher risk for the investors.
Fees & Expense Allocation
Limited Partnership agreements do not provide complete information on Fees and Expense Allocation. In order to avoid any grey areas, there is a push by regulators and investors for the disclosure of all types of fees and expenses involved in managing the fund and its portfolio companies. As stated by regulatory guidelines, agreements should clearly layout all the terms and conditions along with the different fees and expenses.
Fair Valuation Process
Valuation is one of the biggest areas of concern for both the investors and regulators. Some managers attempt to manipulate the valuation for their advantage at various stages. For example, at first, during the marketing and initial stages, managers may tend to show a higher fund valuation by cherry picking the best performing deals and ignoring the non-performing deal. Second, during the investment and closing stage, managers tend to manipulate the valuation and fees based on performing and non-performing deals to show a good and consistent track record. In response to these practices, regulators are advising managers to follow the fund formation and fund agreement to have a fair valuation process throughout life cycle.
In summary, The SEC and investors are looking for fairness and transparency in fund management and administration. In-addition, operating partner fees, ancillary fess and management fees are being monitored and negotiated to their lowest ever, which has directly impacted manager profit margins. As a result, the managers have started to rely on technology to minimize costs and increase productivity. Recent investment trends show that small and mid-size managers are differentiating themselves by being transparent and investing in technology to achieve their growth targets.
Vantage Software has been helping clients for 15 years to comply with regulators and investor expectations about transparency and reporting. Our specialized front and back office solutions provide seamless transparency and reporting capabilities, leading to cost effective, on time reporting and lowering manually intensive exercises.
Our clients are using the following products to comply with the above expectations:
- Vantage Insight – Self-Service investor portal tool, helps our clients and their LPs to view their investment performance, fees & expenses and carryout exposure analysis to understand the risk involved. Our managers are also using Vantage Insight during the fund raising process to show their track record and documents.
- Vantage Investor – Back-end CRM, Partnership Accounting and Reporting tool, helps our clients in managing the investor/contact information, efficient partnership accounting with in-built waterfall calculation and seamless reporting. Vantage Investor allows our managers to track their expenses/fees granular to avoid any compliance issues.
- Vantage Deal Suite – Deal Manager tool, helps deal team in effectively managing the investment life cycle including activities and contact management. Vantage Deal Suite also allows our managers to monitor expenses, portfolio performance, key performance indicators and value creation metrics.
- Vantage Fund Accounting – Portfolio accounting and reporting tool, allows managers to perform comprehensive portfolio accounting and reporting. Vantage Fund Accounting provides streamlined workflow for investments in company securities or partnerships with their underlying portfolio holdings and multi-currency support.
- Coalesce – Investment Research tool, help our managers and their deal team to identify the potential investments or look for any compliance issues in the existing portfolio companies or deals in the pipeline based on the external data feeds and internal documents.