StepStone eyes HNWIs with private wealth push

The firm will integrate fund investments, secondaries and co-investments to create customised investments for the private wealth sector via its Conversus platform.

StepStone Group has become the latest firm to tap the lucrative high-net-worth investor market.

Through its platform named Conversus, the firm will offer private equity, real estate, private debt and infrastructure products to clients via fund investments, secondaries and co-investments, according to a statement.

“Growing demand by high-net-worth and mass affluent investors for private market assets is a strong secular trend and creating products to meet this demand is a natural extension of StepStone’s franchise,” said Jason Ment, president and co-COO of the firm.

It is unclear how much HNWIs need to invest in order to access Conversus. StepStone declined to comment beyond the press release.

HNWIs are showing increasing interest in private equity. According to the latest UBS/Campden Wealth Family Office Report, nearly 40 percent of respondents plan to invest more in direct private equity and 28 percent plan to back more private equity funds in 2020.

Managers that have leveraged private wealth capital include Blackstone and Partners Group. Blackstone expects to raise around $15 billion through its private wealth business, Joan Solotar, who heads the division, told PEI in November. Switzerland-headquartered Partners Group is seeking to increase exposure to this investor base, having received about 12 percent of total client demand in H1 2019 from family offices, the firm said in its latest interim report.

Conversus, a wholly-owned business of StepStone, will be led by chief executive Bob Long; Tim Smith, chief operating officer and chief financial officer; and Neil Menard, president of distribution. Long and Smith previously founded publicly-traded fund of private equity funds Conversus Capital. The pair sold the firm’s private equity fund interests and direct co-investments to HarbourVest Partners in 2012 for $1.4 billion, according to a statement at that time. Long and Smith retained the rights to the Conversus name.

StepStone manages over $52 billion of client assets.