A flood of new investors and new firms as well as record amounts of uninvested capital, or dry powder, are just a few reasons why today’s private equity sector is thriving. Both the number of firms in the industry and total assets under management are at historic highs, and according to Preqin’s 2016 Global Private Equity & Venture Capital Report, 94% of investors in private equity plan on committing at least the same amount of capital to private equity again next year.
Even amid these prosperous times, however, there are signs of disruption and challenges to the industry on the horizon, so private equity firms should take advantage of the favorable position they enjoy today to prepare themselves for future shakeups. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) makes this argument in its recent report entitled Capitalizing on the New Golden Age in Private Equity, which asserts that private equity firms should turn operational playbooks inward, develop a true talent strategy, and upgrade their approach to value creation.
If firms want to remain on top of the private equity pyramid, then it is critical that they refine their market positions and competitive advantages. Private equity today is thriving but also crowded, so firms require stronger positions and unique advantages in order to attract new investors moving forward. In its report, BCG suggests that many firms can find these advantages through technology and new digital innovations. By digitizing certain operations, BCG posits that firms can increase efficiency and reduce costs, allowing them to invest and manage larger pools of assets–a clear competitive advantage.
Furthermore, with private equity enjoying a period of unprecedented growth and success, firms are in a position to develop new talent strategies. The hiring approach firms used prior to today’s golden age may not serve them as well in the new private equity environment where assets and investments are larger and where LPs are looking for greater flexibility, according to the BCG report. Today, teams with a wide range of experience–former executives, investment bankers, industry leaders, consultants, and individuals with digital skills experience–are particularly valuable.
Lastly, the report calls on firms to be more active in their approach to value creation. Simply trying to reduce costs and bolster revenues isn’t enough, and with disruption upending industries from retail to healthcare, funds can no longer be passively left to themselves. BCG instead recommends more interactions with teams of portfolio managers, digital-oriented strategies, focusing on freeing up working capital and other resources to facilitate turnarounds within underperforming portfolio companies, and more.