Exploring the Fund of Funds Opportunity in Private Equity

The allure of private markets for investors seeking superior returns compared to public equities is undeniable. However, venturing into this complex and opaque domain can be daunting, especially for those without extensive experience or substantial capital. This is where the fund-of-funds (FoF) approach emerges as a potent ally, offering a powerful entry point for investors of all sizes.

Understanding the Private Market & Fund of Funds Landscape

Private markets encompass a diverse range of asset classes, including private equity, venture capital, real estate, and infrastructure. These investments often involve longer lock-up periods, higher illiquidity, and information asymmetry compared to publicly traded options. While this translates to potentially higher returns, it also necessitates a more sophisticated investment strategy and access to specialized expertise.

According to McKinsey & Company, in 2022, the  global private markets fundraising amounted to $1.2 trillion, matching the pre-pandemic peak observed in 2019. However, this represented an 11.4% decline from the record-breaking $1.4 trillion raised in 2021. Despite the decrease, the total fundraising for 2022 stands as the third highest on record, and it is anticipated to rank second once the full-year data is compiled.

Challenges of Private Markets

For individual investors or smaller institutions, directly navigating the private market landscape presents several hurdles:

  • High minimum investment thresholds: Accessing top-performing private equity or venture capital funds often requires significant capital commitments, exceeding the reach of many investors.
  • Limited deal flow: Identifying and evaluating high-quality private market opportunities requires extensive industry knowledge and access to exclusive networks.
  • Resource and expertise constraints: Due diligence, portfolio monitoring, and managing complex legal and operational aspects demand specialized skills and resources that may not be readily available to individual investors.

Investing in private equity (PE) funds involves selecting funds with specific strategies or investment focuses, such as venture capital, buyouts, growth portfolios, or infrastructure. These funds are invested in a wide-range of sectors from fintech and climate tech to more mature sectors such as consumer retail and real estate.

An investment vehicle known as a fund of funds (FoF) substitutes shares of other funds for individual securities or private assets. This strategy offers diversification and a number of other benefits to private equity fund investors. By participating in several PE funds, a FoF can increase its diversification even more. This can provide diversification in terms of asset class, management, strategy, geography, and vintage.

Smaller investors can diversify their holdings across multiple dimensions using a single investment vehicle by using a FoF. This method is practical and makes use of the professional managers’ portfolio construction skills. Furthermore, access to individual funds that might not otherwise be available to individual investors can be provided by FoF.

The FoF operates as a limited partnership, similar to individual PE funds, with a general partner (GP) managing investments and limited partners providing capital. The GP selects funds for investment, allowing for swift investment decisions as the chosen funds are already operational, eliminating the need to await funding rounds typical in direct investments in private companies.

The FoF Advantages

Fund-of-funds act as master funds that invest capital in a diversified portfolio of underlying private market funds across various asset classes, strategies, and geographies. This approach offers several key benefits:

  • Democratization of access: FoFs enable investors with smaller amounts of capital to participate in high-quality private market opportunities, lowering the entry barrier significantly.
  • Diversification and risk management: By spreading investments across multiple underlying funds, FoF achieve broader diversification and mitigate risks associated with single-fund performance or specific asset class exposures.
  • Expert selection and due diligence: FoF managers possess the experience and resources to meticulously select and vet underlying funds, ensuring access to top performers in line with investor objectives.
  • Streamlined administration: FoF handle the complexities of investing in numerous private funds, including subscription, reporting, and tax compliance, saving investors time and administrative burdens.


The ability to leverage the expertise and relationships of experienced FoF managers provides investors with invaluable insights into market trends, emerging opportunities, and potential risks. This knowledge can be instrumental in navigating the dynamic and ever-evolving private market landscape.

Choosing the Right FoF

Selecting the most suitable FoF requires careful consideration of several factors. By considering these factors carefully, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the most suitable FoF for your investment goals.

  • Selecting the appropriate strategy: Aligning your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon with the fund of funds’ investment strategy is crucial to achieve your financial goals. For example, if you are interested in Real Estate investment, choose a more specific FoF instead of a generalist one.
  • Performance track record: Evaluate the historical performance and consistency of the FoF in generating returns, considering that FoF returns are influenced by the performance of underlying funds, which may exhibit volatility and unpredictability.
  • Fees and expenses: Understand and compare the fees of the FoF with industry standards. FoFs usually entail various fees, including management fees, performance fees, and carried interest, which could lower overall returns for investors compared to direct investments.

The private markets offer a wealth of potential for investors seeking superior returns and portfolio diversification. However, navigating this complex terrain requires a strategic approach. By leveraging the expertise and access provided by fund-of-funds, investors can unlock the potential of private markets in a more efficient and manageable manner. As the private market landscape continues to evolve, the FoF approach is poised to play an increasingly critical role in democratizing access and maximizing returns for investors of all types.




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