Private Equity : “Changing perceptions & New Realities” ; “Need to adapt to changing conditions” | McKinsey

” Private-equity Industry performance is better than previously thought, but success is getting harder to repeat. Investors and firms will need to adapt to changing conditions”…

Private-equity performance has been misunderstood in some essential ways. It now seems that the private-equity industry decisively outperforms public equities with respect to risk-adjusted returns, which may prompt return-starved institutional investors to allocate even more capital to the asset class. But this good news comes with an asterisk: top private-equity firms now seem less able to produce consistently successful funds. That’s because success has become more democratic as the general level of investing skill has increased.

The new priority for success is differentiated capabilities…Limited partners (those who invest in the funds raised and managed by General Partners) expect funds that exploit a general partner’s distinctive strengths will do well, while more generalist approaches may be falling from favor. Institutional investors will need to get better at identifying and assessing these skills, and private-equity firms will need to look inward to better understand and capitalize on the factors that truly drive their performance..

A new understanding of an elusive industry :

Private equity has grown from the equivalent of 1.5 % of global stock-market capitalization in 2000 to about 3.9 % in 2012. Along the way it has boomed and busted alongside public markets, while inexorably taking additional share. At the same time, many have observed that private equity—though ostensibly an “Alternative” Asset Class—has in two ways drifted toward the mainstream. Several researchers concluded in the mid-2000s that, on average, buyout funds under-performed the S&P 500 on a risk-adjusted basis; only about a quarter of firms consistently beat the index. Other research has found that private-equity returns have become highly correlated with public markets.

As the perception of private equity’s differentiation has waned, the fees that the industry charges investors, already under pressure, have come to seem especially exorbitant to some. And as firms have come under fire for some of their practices, they have not always done a good job of explaining their role to the public.

These are serious challenges but, if returns are only average, none of the rest matters very much. Private-equity returns are, however, notoriously difficult to calculate. By and large, the industry does not publish its results; the data that are available can be inconsistent and hard to reconcile, as both private-equity firms and their limited partners use diverse approaches for their calculations. Making things more difficult, a database on which researchers have relied turns out to have had serious methodological issues.

Encouragingly, new research based on more recent and more stable data suggests that private-equity returns have been much better than previously supposed, though top firms’ performance is now somewhat less consistent… The conventional wisdom on returns stems from analyses of funds raised in 1995 and earlier. In January 2011, McKinsey developed an analysis for the World Economic Forum in which we found that funds created since 1995 appear to have meaningfully outperformed the S&P 500 index, even on a leverage-adjusted basis (Exhibit 1). Two academic teams have since reached similar conclusions. Both find that over the long term, private-equity returns have outstripped the public market index by at least 300 basis points.

Poised for growth, with new complications :

These insights on persistence and dispersion are important nuances to the larger story: private equity is a more attractive investment class than was previously understood. A 300-basis-point gap in returns makes a world of difference : a 9 % annual return from private equities is a big improvement on the 6 % OR so that institutional investors tend to expect from listed equities. Confirmation of this persistent performance superiority means that return-seeking limited partners, especially those like pension funds that also crave stability, will likely increase allocations to private equities. The industry can also look forward to a new wave of commitments from high-net-worth individuals as private-equity firms roll out new retail offerings and distribution mechanisms..

As a result, we believe the industry is on the verge of a new phase of growth in capital under management―though with the history of troubled data, the potential for other possibilities must be acknowledged. But where will this additional capital be deployed ? There are several possibilities. One is that fund size will rise as general partners seek larger deals. A recent McKinsey analysis found no meaningful correlation between performance and either deal size or fund size. If the boom era’s mega-deals prove successful and borrowing costs remain low, then more such large transactions are likely as the demand among institutional investors to deploy large amounts of capital continues to increase. Another possibility is that private-equity firms will look to more nascent markets and to adjacent asset classes. Finally, firms could expand the universe of potential targets simply by lowering their return expectations.

But before the industry can accelerate to its full potential, some questions must be answered. Limited partners are increasingly concerned about management fees; some also wonder if they can get the scale they need, or if private equity will remain a small slice of their portfolio. While fund-raising in 2013 was the highest in five years, many general partners are struggling to raise new funds on the heels of disappointing recession-era vintages, let alone to convince limited partners to commit larger sums. Both sides will need to take stock and design strategies to capitalize on the new realities in private equity.

An agenda for Limited Partners (LP) :

The shifts in the industry are pushing limited partners to rethink their general-partner selection capabilities. Despite the drop-off in persistence, the reward for selecting the best general partners is still great—but making that choice is now much more difficult. Track record is no longer a reliable indicator. General-partner selection is becoming more focused on understanding the capabilities that have driven past returns and assessing whether those capabilities are still present, relevant, and sufficiently differentiated to continue to drive out-performance into the future.

To make these assessments, limited partners will need to generate deeper insights into the drivers of private-equity performance, follow these insights to identify high-potential geographies and sectors, and have the conviction to use these insights to select external managers. The challenge of acting on conviction is particularly acute in the emerging markets, where shorter track records and even spottier data create further challenges in general-partner selection.

Achieving such insight will require real investment in research and in due diligence of managers. These capabilities should be built by enhancing the talent base within institutional investors and exploiting data through advanced analytics. In addition, investors will need to improve the general knowledge and understanding of private equity among their board members, as these directors are often entrusted with asset allocation and manager selection.

Some Limited Partners have begun to ” insource”, effectively to doing private-equity investments on their own…Recent academic research has found this approach preferable for institutional investors in certain circumstances; direct private investment saves fees and can generate better results than an external manager. The research considered a small sample of SEVEN Canadian pension funds that have enjoyed higher returns from their own deals than from their investments in private-equity funds or even from their co-investments in the funds’ deals…!!

While the returns may be enticing, this kind of forward integration is not for everyone. Many institutions may face daunting structural obstacles, notably in their ability to hire, govern, and retain top talent. And the effort put forth by the Canadian investors was substantial: first, they had to establish professionalism in their management and governance, including the board. To build and sustain internal teams of investment professionals with the right skills, the funds had to be able and willing to provide an attractive level of compensation that was frequently much higher than that of professionals in other asset classes. The funds had to learn to trust these professionals with investment decisions. And they needed to build strong research teams to understand the cyclical and structural trends of private markets to determine the optimal time to invest.

How General Partners (GP) might respond :

General partners have several options they might consider. To raise capital in a newly competitive era, private-equity firms must be able not only to point to a track record of success, as in the past, but also to say how that track record was achieved and, even more critically, how it will be maintained. As such, private-equity firms may need to develop a more detailed understanding of their past performance and be able to describe its fundamental underpinnings—in particular, the skills, brand, focus, and other capabilities that the firm brings to its deals. They may also need to explain how these capabilities are evolving to allow them to keep ahead in a competitive market. Limited partners are looking for clear, differentiated strategies, with relevant and proven capabilities; General Partners will need ready answers..!!

As a simple example of the kind of distinctive skill and insight that limited partners may now seek, McKinsey research has shown that Deal Partners with strong transaction backgrounds add considerable value to transactions in roll-ups (deals made to expand market share in a given industry)—but not as much when companies develop organically. The converse is true for those with managerial or consulting backgrounds.

Knowing how a differentiated value proposition and strategy for the future generates performance can help a General Partner(GP) articulate one that sets it apart from both its private-equity competitors and from Limited Partners(LP), that aspire to invest directly. It may want to review the possibilities for increasing its specialization, by sector, geography, or deal type. It should consider cataloguing its skills, identifying both the relevant abilities it has and those it needs to deepen or build from scratch. It can then raise funds for investments that can only succeed with those skills…Imagine a firm with exceptional skills in chemical deal making and operations. It might raise a fund with a 15-year lifetime, rather than the usual 10 years, to ensure that it was active through at least two of the industry’s cycles. And it might swear off any investment that is not directly tied to the sub-sectors in which it specializes.

As Limited Partners concentrate their investment with fewer firms, General Partners should consider ways to integrate investors further into their business system. General partners already regularly invite their Limited Partners to co-invest in some deals, where a decade ago they might have formed a consortium with other buyout funds. But more is possible. For example, General Partners may provide investment advice to Limited Partners on some portions of their portfolio that are not invested in private equity. A General Partner with expertise in China, for example, may counsel a Limited Partner on how to invest there. And General Partners might look to Limited Partners as an exit route for certain types of businesses that Limited Partners may want to own for the long term. All these closer relationships can benefit both parties..!!

General partners can also consider some bold changes to their incentive structures. In an era of smaller fund sizes, the 2 % management fee was designed to “keep the lights on”—that is, to cover basic operating costs. It was a way to simplify the annual process in which the investment firm submitted its budget to investors for approval. Today, even though most firms have lowered the fee, it is often a major source of income. Some institutional investors worry that it distracts managers from their main task of generating returns. Firms have an opportunity to distinguish themselves by shifting incentives away from the management fee and toward carried interest. This is not a zero-sum move; rather, it should increase the size of the profit pool that general partners and their investors share.

Along these same lines, firms can also offer options to their investors. Some leading firms, for example, now allow investors in some funds to choose either “1 & 20” (a 1 %  management fee and 20 %  of carried interest) OR “2 & 15”. Firms may also consider changes in the calculation of “Carry”. Measuring carry by its true rate of return rather than returns in excess of an absolute threshold (typically 8 % ), as is the common practice, can better align the interests of General Partners and their investors.

It remains to be seen if the next phase of private-equity growth can match the last boom…??  What does seem clear, though, is that Limited Partners(LP) will have to work harder and smarter to find Top-funds, and General Partners (GP) will need to become better marketers of their unique abilities…

“Sensory Marketing”: Using the “Senses for Brand Building” | by: Shiv | Marketing FAQ

“Sensory marketing (also known as sensory branding) is a type of marketing that uses the power of the human senses to appeal to the target audience at an emotional level”… A Multi-sensory Marketing or Brand Experience generates emotions and feelings that create a stronger and more relevant perception of a brand in the consumers mind…

The Science behind Sensory Marketing :

We human have always been sentient beings. Feelings and emotions have always been more important to us than cold logic or facts. But the extent to which our senses or emotions influence our perception was more of a mystery until recent times. In recent times scientists have come up with compelling evidence that explain how our five senses interact with each other to influence how and why we like or dislike things from the food we eat to the environment we live in.

Research has also concluded that a complete experience involving as much of our senses as possible is far more effective in brand recognition than involving only one sense. A multi-sensory approach to Marketing or Branding is more in tune with what Neuroscience research has shown till now..

Sensory Marketing and its FIVE Elements :

Now let us understand how the FIVE Senses can be leveraged to provide a multi-sensory branding experience.

sensory marketing

1. Visual Branding – The Power of Sight:

Since the genesis of advertising and branding our sight has played a major role. Advertising and branding, over the years, has predominantly catered to our eyes. And rightly so.

  • 92.6% of the population puts more emphasis on visual factors such as colour and shape when buying a product.
  • Visual factors such as color shape are dominant factors in creating first impressions about a product.
  • Color influences on- shelf product visibility in a mall by as much as 80%.
  • Colors ads are read more by 42% than black and white ads.
  • Market researchers have also determined the influence of different colors on different kinds of shoppers.

It is no wonder that maintaining color and shape consistency across all marketing and branding collaterals is one of the main pillars of branding. But only the visual appeal of a product is not enough for full experience of the brand. And that’s where other senses come in.

2. Auditory Branding – The Power of Hearing: 

Different sounds evoke different feelings in us and we have always been sensitive to different sounds.

  • Experiments conducted in a restaurant showed that when music that is slower than the rhythm of heartbeats was played, the customers ate more.
  • When whirring and tinkling sounds were removed from slot machines in Las Vegas, earnings fell by 24%.

Examples of Auditory Branding – 

  • Audi associated the sounds of a steady heartbeat, a piano and a breath with its automobiles.
  • Mercedes Benz assigned a team to create the most appealing sound for a closing card door.
  • The distinctive “chug” of a Harley Davidson motorcycle has elevated its position among motorcycles. In India, Royal Enfield uses the same sound to distinguish its motor cycles from the rest.
  • In the earlier days of radio, jingles used to be the most important tool for brand recall and association.

3. Olfactory Branding – The Power of Smell:

Our sense of smell is the most impressionable of all the five senses and every smell evokes a distinctive feeling.

  • Just 1 drop of perfume is enough to be noticed in a three room apartment.
  • Our sense of smell triggers as much as 755 of our emotions.
  • Smell is a major distinguishing factor for what we taste.
  • Human beings are capable of distinguishing over 10,000 different odors.

Examples of Olfactory Branding – 

  • Rolls Royce combines the smells of mahogany wood, motor oil and leather to convey the luxurious identity of the brand.
  • Some real estate companies sold more houses by using the aromas of fresh baked cookies and popcorn (to evoke memories of childhood and togetherness).

4. Gustative Branding – The Power of Taste :

People can detect 5 basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter & umani. But combined with our olfactory sense, we can perceive a variety of flavors and these flavors can be associated with a variety of feelings and emotions.

Example of Gustative Branding – 

  • In 2007 Skoda Fabia baked a cake that looked exactly like the real car and they filmed this whole process. They wanted to project Fabia as a “sweet & tasty” car. During the first week of the campaign, sales went up by 160 percent.

5. Tactile Branding – The Power of Touch:

Human skin has more than 4 million sensory receptors that can be easily influenced through the material, softness, texture and weight of your product. Touch induces a personal association with the product and in turn, a brand.

Examples of Tactile Branding – 

  • A fruit juice brand using the texture of actual fruit in the product packaging to make the juice feel more “real.”
  • The unique metallic surface of the iPhone can be associated with the brand even without seeing it.

Examples of Multi – Sensory Marketing – Using all the Senses to create an “Experience” :

Apple – Apple is famous for creating a unique brand experience using all the senses. A customer can “experience” the brand in its full form in any Apple concept store. In any of these stores customer can see, touch, listen and even smell Apple.

Starbucks – Starbucks firmly believes in the philosophy of providing a complete brand experience by engaging the various senses. A Starbucks restaurant smells like freshly grinded coffee. They even stopped serving breakfast because the smell of eggs interferes with the rich aroma of coffee. Add to it, the cozy interiors, the nice baristas and you get the “Starbucks experience”.

Singapore Airlines – They pioneered sensory branding the airline industry. The staff uniform, the make-up of the attendants, their mannerisms, the unique perfume inside the flight all evoked feelings of comfort and luxury and and uniquely associated these feelings with the brand.

“Ways to Get Teams to Work Better Together”: Organizational Excellence | by: Linda Finkle | Incedo Group

Every team needs to work well together. Success for any organization depends on this and every manager would love for this to happen organically”…

Yet it takes a lot of work to get individuals with different Skills Levels, Background & Personalities to jell together and become a cohesive team !! 

In many cases the success of the team can help improve the organization’s productivity, efficiency and effectiveness, and maybe even revenues. What’s interesting to me though is how we focus on getting these teams to work together better and yet if we look at surgical teams, they already do that…naturally.

What’s the difference between what surgical teams know and do, than business teams ?? 

Surgical Teams versus Business Teams :

Teams are teams right ? By that I mean aren’t all teams the same ? They are made up of a bunch of team members who each have a specific role and responsibility to the team. 

So what difference does it make if it’s a sports team, business team, surgical team or any other kind of team ? What makes a surgical team different ? What do they know or do that we can apply to other team situations ??

I admit that the life and death component can’t be overlooked. And there are a number of other factors that come into play with surgical teams I think are worth considering.

  • Fully focused – They aren’t reading emails, texting or thinking about their next meeting. The patient in front of them has their full attention, as do the other members of the team.
  • Mutual Support – The doctor performing the surgery needs the support of the nurses and anesthesiologist and everyone else in the room. And each of these people needs the support of the others to perform their job well.
  • Data Driven Decision Making – They come to the surgery with high-quality information and aren’t ‘guessing’.
  • Interest of the Patient is Above Own Interests – Sure there are egos in that room but at the end of the day the patient’s interest are paramount and the interests of the others in the room are secondary.
  • Ability to Make Decisions – They don’t have the luxury of hemming and hawing and considering every possibility and how to make everyone happy, they have to make a decision in the moment, and they do.

I could list other factors but I’m sure you get the point. The question is what can we learn from surgical teams we can apply to the business world to make our teams work better together ??

Applying Lessons from Surgical Teams to Business Teams :

Clearly there are natural differences between business and medicine we can’t ignore. But the lessons have applications in the business world if we are open to considering the possibilities. Let’s take a look and see what can be applied to your teams.

  • Interest of Enterprise above Individuals – The enterprise is the team or the organization (just like the patient is to the surgical team). Each person comes with their own skills and knowledge that are meant to collectively contribute to the success. One’s own personal needs and interests have to take a back seat.
  • Clear Leader – Someone has to make a decision during surgery when there are decisions to make. The doctor performing the surgery assumes and accepts that responsibility. They make the decision with input from others and recognize the decision is the best one they can make at that moment. In business while it’s important to gain consensus at the end of the day someone has to be willing to accept responsibility for making a decision.
  • Clearly Defined Roles – You may have multiple doctors in the operating room and multiple nurses but each has a specific role. Someone may be there to “assist”. Others to observe. Someone else may be working in tangent with the other doctor because they bring a different specialty into the OR. Each has their own role that is clearly defined so they bring their own area of expertise to the team and are respected for that expertise and the role they play.
  • Success is Define Collectively Not Individually – I know the surgeon may get most of the kudos outside the operating room (and maybe inside as well) and each person knows, including the surgeon, they couldn’t have had success without the collective we”.

In the interest of making sure this article isn’t too long I’ll stop here. What I want you to recognize is that one of the ways you can get your teams to work better together is to look at the lessons from medicine, the surgical teams, and what makes them successful.

Applying these same concepts to your teams will have members looking at each other differently, responding to each other differently and the net result will be a huge win for the individuals, the team and your organization…

(Linda Finkle, a Certified  Coach, helps get rid of the elephant lurking in the corner of your business to clear the way so you and your staff can tackle real business challenges. She is also a specialist at improving your ROI at any cost, creating clear communication and helping you and your employees enjoy your job.)