Story of the Year: Private equity’s Future 40

In May, PEI compiled a list of 40 individuals under 40 set to shape the asset class over the next decade.

Ever wondered how different life would be had you known Henry Kravis, George Roberts and Jerome Kohlberg when they founded KKR in 1976? Where you would be today if you had met Blackstone founders Steve Schwarzman and Pete Peterson in 1985?

The boat may have sailed on those connections but it is not too late to meet the next generation of private equity luminaries. In May, Private Equity International compiled a list of 40 individuals under 40 set to shape the asset class over the next decade.

The process was simple: we asked industry sounding boards, as well as firms, investors and advisors, to recommend those showing innovation or an X factor marking them as potential future leaders. Firms could only put forward their own staff provided they also include someone at another firm.

PEI received more than 130 nominations, and whittling these down to just 40 was no mean feat. The result was a who’s who of dealmakers, fundraisers, investors, lawyers and operations executives spanning three continents.

The industry’s future leaders included a 32-year-old who leads cutting-edge transactions for a world-leading institutional investor; a 36-year-old who is head of fund investments for a €163 billion government-backed investor and a 35-year-old who has deployed $2.5 billion on behalf of New York’s pensioners.

Many of those on the list gathered at a swanky venue in London’s Marylebone in June for networking and 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.

Sister publication Secondaries Investor also publishes an annual guide to the strategy’s Young Guns, now in its fourth year. Members of the class of 2019 gathered in New York in November for an evening that saw buyers, lawyers, advisors and finance providers discuss the market’s latest trends and hottest topics.

What next for the private equity’s best and brightest? Diminishing returns in private equity mean the Future 40 must expect the relationship between limited and general partners to evolve; co-investments are already taking centre stage and, elsewhere, investors are thinking about how to collaborate more effectively or ways to participate more directly in the GP’s economics.

Their own roles are also likely to change. Automation could make GP operations leaner and due diligence more efficient, while heightened demand for technology and investments with a purpose could benefit those with particular interest or expertise in these fields.

But as investor appetites for private equity – and alternatives as a whole – continue to grow, so too should the number of executives entering the fray; the Future 40 list is by no means exhaustive and new talent will continue to emerge. With that in mind, start considering who, from your own and other firms, deserves to make next year’s list.