You’d never actually shed a tear for private equity managers, but it’s hard not to sympathise with them a little of late. They’ve been downweighted by no less an authority than The Future Fund, their fiduciary fund champions continue to slide down the performance pop charts, and Watson Wyatt released an entire report detailing, in a nutshell, how they ought to be paid less. “The basis upon which a manager sets its management fees must be reconsidered.
For example, there is a strong case to budget for management fees on the basis of the number of investment staff and other fixed costs.” No more fees on uninvested cash, either, if Watson gets its way. The zeitgeist does seem to be shifting toward simplicity in investments, as captured by Dean Paatsch in a brilliant speech to last month’s SuperRatings Day of Confrontation. “If managers are prepared to gouge you in open and transparent markets, what on earth will they do to you in the dark?” he said in a warning against re-born Babcock & Browns.