Predicted Attrition in General Partner Ranks Doesn’t Mean Fewer Fund Managers

Given the prospect raised in a high profile Bloomberg story this month of poor returns from credit bubble vintages pushing one in four private equity general partners out of business over the next five years, it is interesting to consider the 10-year average annual growth rate in the number of general partners. This is useful for getting a sense of whether the high level of attrition mentioned by Bloomberg will actually shrink general partner ranks, and hence limited partner investment choice.

The number of private equity general partners considered active by Palico – those who have completed at least one fundraising in the past decade – stands at 6,463 globally.

These GPs are active in everything from general buyout to venture capital, to specialized niches ranging from emerging markets to patents and intellectual property.

Over the past ten years, through industry boom and bust, GP ranks have grown annually by an average of 9.7 percent. If that average holds true for the next five years, even if attrition is as high as Bloomberg predicts, the number of general partners should be greater, and hence LP choice, in 2018 than it is today.

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