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401Ks in PE Accounting, Finance, SPSS Essay Research (Essay Sample)

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401k plans may soon be allowed to invest in private equity. What impact do you expect this to have on the private equity markets and will individual investors be interested in investing in this asset class? Would you want to invest your retirement savings in private equity or venture capital and why?

 

401(k) plans may soon invest in private equity

By: New York Times  June 4, 2020 4:28 pm

 

Everyday investors may soon be able to get a piece of private equity action.

 

The Department of Labor on Wednesday issued a letter that clarifies how, under existing rules, certain retirement plan sponsors, including 401(k)s, can put money into private equity investments that are usually reserved for the super rich and big institutional investors.

 

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the new guidance “helps level the playing field for ordinary investors and is another step by the department to ensure that ordinary people investing for retirement have the opportunities they need for a secure retirement.”

 

But it’s unclear how quickly the managers of big retirement plans will embrace private-equity investments. Vanguard, one of the largest managers of 401(k) plans in the country, declined to comment on the letter. Another major manager, Fidelity, did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Consumer advocates and some regulators have been wary of giving ordinary investors broader access to investments in businesses that do not adhere to the same disclosure rules as public companies and that could put them at risk.

Even without access to this untapped pool of capital, private equity managers have been able to raise record amounts in recent years. Fund managers in the United States had access to $914 billion as of mid-May, according to investment data firm Preqin.

 

Many of those dollars come from wealthy clients, but big pension funds, such as the Texas County and District Retirement System, also put their money into funds managed by private equity firms.

 

But the move away from traditional pensions and into defined contribution plans means most retail investors don’t have access to those kinds of investments, which proponents say can provide added diversification to an investment portfolio.

 

“This is a positive step toward helping more Americans gain access to private equity investment,” Drew Maloney, chief executive of the American Investment Council, which represents the private equity industry, said in a statement.

 

Private equity investments in new startups or in growth businesses can produce high returns. The private equity funds in the top 25% for performance earned at least 16.2% over the 10 years that ended in September 2018, according to PitchBook.

 

But that comes with numerous risks.

As the term “private equity” suggests, investments can be opaque. Companies in such portfolios don’t have to disclose as much information as publicly traded businesses. Investors also can’t cash out as easily as they can with public investments. Money is often locked up for eight to 10 years at a time.

 

And while private equity can score big by investing in the next Facebook, it can also lose money when a company doesn’t get off the ground. According to the same PitchBook data, the bottom 10% of funds had negative returns over 10 years.

 

In November, Andrea Seidt, the Ohio securities commissioner, told the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that a review of 100 enforcement actions over the prior two years — a partial snapshot — showed that more than 1,000 investors had lost in excess of $100 million in private offerings gone wrong.

 

The private marketplace has become increasingly important as startups stay private longer. Also, there are half as many public companies as there were two decades ago, leaving fewer places for everyday investors to store their money.

 

The Labor Department outlined the new guidance in coordination with the SEC. Jay Clayton, the commission’s chairman, said in the statement that the clarification “will provide our long-term Main Street investors with a choice of professionally managed funds that more closely match the diversified public and private market asset allocation strategies.”

 

The SEC has supported giving smaller investors access to private equity through special investment vehicles that might work like mutual funds. Right now, only accredited investors — those with at least $1 million in assets not including their home, or $200,000 in annual income — can participate in private equity deals.

 

In December, the agency proposed rules that would relax the accredited investor rules, but it stopped short of figuring out a way to make private equity more widely accessible. The Labor Department’s guidance was a response to Partners Group, a private equity firm with $94 billion in assets under management, and Pantheon Group, which has $49 billion in assets under management and is controlled by Affiliated Managers Group, a publicly listed company that specializes in asset management.

 

Susan Long McAndrews, a partner at Pantheon, said in a statement that the change was “a critical step toward improving retirement outcomes.”

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401k plans may soon be allowed to invest in private equity
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401k plans may soon be allowed to invest in private equity. What impact do you expect this to have on the private equity markets and will individual investors be interested in investing in this asset class? Would you want to invest your retirement savings in private equity or venture capital and why?
Retirement plan sponsors such as the 401k investment in private equity will likely increase funding for the retirement plans as the PEs have access to capital from wealthy clients and institutional investors. However, given that there is less public disclosure of financial details when compared to publicly listed companies and there is likely to be greater calls for transparency (Lee, 2020). Investments in businesses that do not adhere to the same disclosure rules as public companies increases risk of the investments. Investments in the private equity markets te

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