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Assessing Private Equity Performance
Chaplinsky, Susan Technical Note F-1895 / Published July 30, 2019 / 14 pages.
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Assessing the performance of private equity (PE) investments is a challenging task. It starts with the fact that the assets are privately held and illiquid. By contrast, public equity valuations are determined in a vast open market populated largely by disinterested investors acting on publicly available information. Therefore, to make an informed assessment about PE performance, investors should be aware of the areas where general partners’ discretion can most influence fund performance. As PE has grown as an asset class, investors have pushed for greater disclosure and more standardization of performance metrics and benchmarks. Although this has resulted in greater standardization of the reported information, considerable opportunity remains for general partners to influence fund returns. This note summarizes the key metrics used in assessing PE performance and discusses important areas of general partners’ influence on reported returns.




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  • Overview

    Assessing the performance of private equity (PE) investments is a challenging task. It starts with the fact that the assets are privately held and illiquid. By contrast, public equity valuations are determined in a vast open market populated largely by disinterested investors acting on publicly available information. Therefore, to make an informed assessment about PE performance, investors should be aware of the areas where general partners’ discretion can most influence fund performance. As PE has grown as an asset class, investors have pushed for greater disclosure and more standardization of performance metrics and benchmarks. Although this has resulted in greater standardization of the reported information, considerable opportunity remains for general partners to influence fund returns. This note summarizes the key metrics used in assessing PE performance and discusses important areas of general partners’ influence on reported returns.

  • Learning Objectives