Side Letter: Vanguard eyes PE, Future 40 assemble, Penn SERS’ transparency

Wish you were a fly on the wall at PEI's gathering of the Future 40 Leaders of Private Equity last week? Here's the lowdown on what was discussed, as well as today's brief, for our valued subscribers only.

Just happened

Future 40 on show

Industry professionals from PEI’s Future 40 Leaders of Private Equity list gathered at a swanky venue in London’s Marylebone last Thursday, for networking and a bit of market chat. Hot topics of discussion included how their firms are preparing for a downturn, promoting diversity and which PE lawyers are earning more than most footballers (wish we could tell you, but, you know…). The quality of the attendees was excellent, as were the plentiful champagne and canapés courtesy of Debevoise & Plimpton. Until next year!

At the Vanguard

Low-cost ETF pioneer Vanguard is thinking about launching private equity products to its clients and has held preliminary discussions with HarbourVest Partners and Pantheon over the last year, the WSJ reports (paywall). The firms haven’t commented but we understand the talks, held this year, were highly exploratory and no actions were taken. Giving retail investors greater access to PE is of course a sound idea, as we’ve written before. How big is this opportunity? Just ask Blackstone, which sees retail investors as the future of the industry.

Automatic for the fund admin?

Automation is taking hold across private equity, and nowhere is this more evident – or more needed – than in the fund administration arena. In our special report – out this month – we dive into the key issues shaping the fund admin industry, from harnessing new technology to LP data demands to cybersecurity. As data needs become more complex, fund admins are in a technological arms race for digital supremacy.

First up: Top trends, including a timeline of industry consolidation.

Essentials

The road to transparency. For years, lack of a provision in the State Employees’ Retirement Code allowed Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System to withhold information on its private equity GPs’ valuation, performance, fees and costs and even their identity in public records. No more: the board has told staff to require fee disclosure from GPs in accordance with the ILPA reporting template, put together a report on gross-of-fee investment performance data and develop an annual report of all private markets managers fee and expenses. Read our take on the situation plus Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella’s response to our questions here.

LP meetings. It’s Monday, so here are some LP meetings to watch out for this week.

Dig deeper

New widget alert. Never miss another investor meeting! Our new Investor Calendar widget on our homepage links to a 12-month view of board meetings, investor committee meetings and annual report release dates. To add your institution’s meetings to the calendar, please email researchandanalytics@peimedia.com.

For those of you who prefer to work week-to-week, fear not: we’ll still be bringing you the week’s LP meetings via this very newsletter every Monday.

He said it

“If we are truly putting Pennsylvanians before Wall Street, public funds should not be shielded from accessibility or appropriate scrutiny.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella tells PEI he applauds SERS for pushing for more transparency and reducing risk.


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Today’s letter was prepared by Adam LeIsobel Markham, Alex Lynn and Preeti Singh.


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