Has it all worked out for you? Wake up, take stock, be honest.
Are you a gambler? Do you own real estate funds with office and hotel portfolios that were exposed to the Covid-19 lockdowns? Too bad. Do you own private equity funds that use leverage exceeding 7x cashflows for companies struggling during this crisis? Too bad. Are you invested in early-stage venture backed companies with no sure path to liquidity? Too bad! It really is too bad when investors gamble with risk.
The Covid-19 crisis exposed risk most investors never anticipated in owning leveraged office and hotel portfolios that will take years to recover, if they survive the financial pressures imposed by the crisis. Most investors never anticipated that their highly leveraged portfolio companies would see their revenues disappear during such a time. Investors never imagined that early-stage venture backed companies they liked would be scrambling for cash to survive over the last 12 months.
Conversely, those investors who cared about risk management and chose strategies that minimized use of leverage are feeling much more secure and hopeful. While GDP driven investment themes are cyclical and struggle during recessions, downturns, and global pandemics, we advised our clients to ignore temptations and instead commit to disciplined managers who create real value, avoiding unnecessary risk.
Over the last two years, we shared the following with our clients and these themes have served them well. Why? Because all of them have one thing in common. That is, they are all strategies that consider risk first and are mitigated.
Do you think proven, innovative biotech treatments will lead us to revolutionary outcomes? We do.
Do you think demographically driven real estate opportunities present less cyclical risk? We do.
Do you think proven pre-IPO growth companies have a chance to capture value that leveraged buyout transactions can’t? We do.
Do you think niche, sector specific, high quality private credit without much competition deserves our attention? We do.
Do you think a highly disruptive alternative to secondary liquidity providers deserve investment? We do.
Do you think owning minority stakes in a portfolio of large and growing private investment management firms is a good thing? We do.
So, we hope it has worked out for you! We hope you discovered a better way to invest in private investment funds by thoroughly understanding their risk profiles and choosing lower risk options. How many more shocks do we need to experience before we wake up and start taking risk considerations more seriously? Hopefully we are all aware now of how to invest by paying more attention to underlying risk because 2020 has been a needed wake up call for many private equity investors.
Column by Alex Gregory, founder of Better Way, LLC
Alex Gregory is the founder of Better Way, LLC and has over 20 years of private investing experience both with a multi-billion dollar family office and a global money center bank, where he co-founded the private investment sourcing and diligence team. Alex is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.