VIDEO: PE has become ‘scapegoat’ for anti-wealth movement, says Thoma

The veteran private equity investor rails against the obsession with personal wealth and calls for more scrutiny of non-financial returns.

Carl Thoma, an industry veteran and founder of two leading private equity franchises, believes the private equity industry is “not being done any favours” by conspicuous displays of wealth and a general fixation on personal net worth.

In this six-minute video recorded last week at Private Equity International‘s CFOs & COOs Forum in New York, Thoma, who co-founded and is managing partner of software-focused PE giant Thoma Bravo, describes how private equity is being caught up in an “anti-wealth” movement.

“A lot of the reaction to private equity is a reflection of the wealth we have,” he says.

Thoma rails against rankings of personal net worth and frequent references to certain individuals’ “billionaire” status in the financial press. He instead calls for individuals in the industry to talk less about themselves and more about the work they do in reinvigorating and growing portfolio companies. “Some people who throw big parties […] are not doing our industry any favours,” he says.

“To go to the next level – to deal with some of this political backlash – we need to allow ourselves to be a little bit more scrutinised on the value we create, rather than just the ROI to investors.”