A supportive function

Chief Commercial Officer, Alex Traub spoke to The Drawdown this month about the value of bespoke investor administrative operations as the private equity industry grows and matures, and in response to increased operational, regulatory and reporting demands. For those with leaner back-office teams, the twin challenges of global increased compliance and reporting requirements, alongside increasingly diverse investor bases are applying a further strain.

At Alter Domus, we specialize in best of class fund accounting, reporting, regulatory expertise, and technology platforms. By working with us, asset managers can reduce their burden while ensuring their obligations are addressed efficiently and effectively. Reach out to Alex to hear more.

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As the private equity industry has grown and matured, so have the operational, regulatory and reporting demands on the asset class. This has been particularly challenging for those managers with leaner back-office teams, who have had to focus resources on the core business of finding and backing great businesses and management teams. This model, which has served managers so well for so long, is now pushing against its limits.

On the regulatory front, US managers are bracing for the implementation of new SEC rules that will oblige managers to produce audit and quarterly performance reports and provide more detailed disclosure on fund expenses. In Europe, meanwhile, managers are readying for the rollout of the next version of the AIFMD II in 2026, which will add to compliance disclosure and reporting requirements. In addition to a higher volume of regulatory disclosure, managers are also navigating the complexities of working with an increasingly international and diverse investor base and the accompanying increase in requests for bespoke, tailored investor reporting. For managers with the scale to invest in large back-office infrastructure adapting to higher disclosure and reporting volumes has been manageable. For other managers, however, existing operating models simply cannot ramp in the same way.

Fund administrators: key partners for long-term success
As private equity evolves, regulation increases and investors become more sophisticated, certain fund services providers are emerging as key partners in the midmarket and will have a crucial role to play in the sector’s long-term success. Rather than facing a scenario where €10-15m of capital expenditure has to be ploughed into upgrading the back-office capacity – at the expense of the core front-office functions of deal sourcing and execution – smaller managers can turn to fund administration partners to support their back-office obligations and free-up resources to focus on transactions and value creation.

Fund administrators, working with hundreds of managers across multiple jurisdictions, have the economies of scale and operational synergies to invest in fund accounting and reporting, regulatory expertise and technology platforms at levels that would be impossible for a single manager trying to carry the load in isolation. Outsourcing back-office functions to regulatory and reporting experts, who have the technology and human capital to handle more complex and intense workflows, gives managers the comfort that their obligations to investors and regulators are being addressed by expert service providers that know the market and have the muscle to scale-up capacity to meet intensifying back-office demands.

Enhancing technology capability is an example of how fund administrators are adding value for clients. In addition to opening access to best-of-breed industry software offerings and realistic price points, fund services partners also have the size and resources to build and maintain proprietary technology that can help clients to operate more efficiently. Alter Domus’ Digital Workflows Application, which uses AI and automation technology to handle the increasing volume and complexity of reporting and transaction flow, for example, is available to clients and can help managers to secure significant operational efficiencies.

Opportunities emerge from challenges
Partnering with a fund services provider to boost back-office bandwidth is not only a defensive play for managers. Harnessing a fund administrator’s service capability can help to unlock new sources of liquidity and new investor bases.

With liquidity for example, a slowdown in exit volumes in the face of higher interest rates has seen managers explore continuation fund vehicles as an alternative exit route to secondary buyouts, as well as trade sales and IPOs, to realize distributions for investors. Fund administrators can help managers to undertake continuation fund deals more frequently and in higher volumes. In addition to complex deal execution and organization, continuation fund vehicles also require ongoing administration and reporting.

Fund administrators can scale-up support to assist managers, as continuation fund deals are secured without placing the additional demand of back-offices. The back-office heft of a fund services partner also opens up pathways into non-institutional investor bases. The administrative demands of raising capital from individual investors – typically through private wealth feeder funds, or semi-liquid funds and open-ended structures, such as Europe’s emerging ELTIF regime – can be a non-starter for managers with small back-office teams. These structures require more regular reporting of portfolio NAV and the capacity to provide liquidity for capped redemptions during fixed windows. Client onboarding and compliance volumes also ramp up significantly when capital is raised from large numbers of non-institutional clients rather than the limited groups of institutional investors that are the norm in closed-ended private equity funds.

Managers can turn to fund administrators that are already operating at scale to digest the additional know-your-client, cashflow monitoring and reporting workflows that come with raising capital from
non-institutional channels.

Partners for the long-term
Shifts in what investors and regulators expect from private equity managers, the types of investors
managers are raising capital from, and the exit pathways available in a more sophisticated market, are reshaping how the asset class is thinking about its back-office requirements. This transformation is particularly challenging for smaller players, but through long-term partnerships with fund administration experts, managers can share the administrative load of operating in a more mature industry and stay focused on what they do best.


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