Private Equity is Losing Its Appeal, But You’re Already Invested

“Even if you’ve never talked to a fund manager, or don’t have any idea what a leveraged buyout is, your financial future still depends on this enigmatic world of finance, full of risks and promises usually reserved for wealthy investors.” This according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.

The article points out that major pension funds have billions invested in private equity and that, even if you’re not in line for a state or city pension, tax dollars would serve as a backstop should such pensions suffer shortfalls. “This hasn’t been a problem in recent decades, thanks to the strong performance of private equity funds,” the article says, “But things may be about to change.”

The problem, according to the Globe, is that what used to be a handful of private equity firms—which the article characterizes as “an investment garden full of low-hanging fruit”—has since exploded by more than twentyfold since 1990, from 359 to 7,775 firms (data from research firm Preqin), and “most of the easy money has been plucked.”

For today’s private equity investors, the article concludes, this presents a problem because “it means they’re liable to overpay for second-rate opportunities, which will cut into their returns.”