Private Equity Terminology

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The finance sector is renowned for its complex terminology, particularly within the realm of private equity, a segment that has demonstrated remarkable growth and resilience, establishing itself as a cornerstone for value-driven funding for both public and private entities. Private equity distinguishes itself through its focus on direct investments into companies, aiming to foster growth and enhance value before eventually exiting these investments at a profit.

A quintessential characteristic of private equity funds is their typical lifespan of about a decade. This long-term investment horizon underscores the illiquid nature of private equity, where early exits are rare and substantial returns usually don’t materialize until several years into the investment. This structure is tailored to suit the investment strategies of high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, who are the primary participants in this market. These investors are drawn to the potential of higher returns compared to traditional investment avenues, albeit with a higher risk threshold.

In recent years, the private equity industry has taken steps to broaden its investor base beyond the traditional realm of affluent individuals and large institutions. Innovations in fund structures and regulatory changes have lowered the barriers to entry, allowing accredited investors to partake in private equity investments with minimum commitments that can be as modest as £25,000. This democratization of private equity investing has opened up new avenues for wealth generation for a wider audience, albeit still within the confines of those who meet specific income or net worth criteria to be considered accredited investors.

Navigating the labyrinth of private equity terminology can be daunting for both industry novices and seasoned executives. Terms like “carried interest,” “dry powder,” “leveraged buyout,” and “management buy-in” are just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of specialized vocabulary that defines this sector. Understanding these terms is crucial for anyone looking to engage with the private equity industry, whether as an investor, a company seeking funding, or a professional working within the space.

Private Equity (PE) stands as a pivotal realm within the broader spectrum of finance, characterized by its distinct investment strategies, structures, and terminologies. Understanding the jargon specific to private equity can be crucial for navigating this complex field effectively. Below is a simplified guide to some of the most commonly encountered terms in private equity.  See Clutch

General Partner (GP)

At the heart of a private equity fund’s operations is the General Partner (GP). GPs are entities, often structured as partnerships, responsible for the management of the fund and its investment portfolio. Their role encompasses everything from identifying and executing investment opportunities to overseeing the operational aspects of the investments and eventually, executing exit strategies.

GPs earn a management fee, which is usually about 2% of the fund’s total assets under management (AUM), compensating them for their operational and management expertise. Additionally, they receive a portion of the fund’s profits, known as carried interest, typically set at 20% but can vary between 5% and 30% based on the fund’s structure and agreement terms. A portion of this carried interest can also be allocated to individual asset managers as part of their compensation.

Limited Partner (LP)

The investors in a private equity fund are referred to as Limited Partners (LPs). LPs provide the capital that the fund invests and are responsible for the management fees. They are passive investors, meaning they are not involved in the day-to-day management of the fund. Importantly, LPs enjoy protection from losing more than their invested capital and are shielded from legal liabilities associated with the fund’s investments or its operations. This limited liability is a key feature distinguishing LPs from GPs.


A non-executive director or chairman on a company’s board is not involved in the daily management or operational decisions of the company. Their role is advisory, offering guidance and expertise to enhance strategic decision-making and oversight. Non-executives bring an external perspective and are often experts in the company’s industry or sector, contributing to the governance and strategic direction of the firm without being bogged down by internal management roles.

Anchor Investor

Also known as a cornerstone investor, an anchor investor is typically the first and largest investor in a private equity fund during the initial stages of fundraising. Their substantial commitment serves as a vote of confidence in the fund, enhancing its credibility and appeal to other potential investors. Anchor investors are often public investors in the context of venture capital funds, and their early buy-in can be crucial for the fund’s ability to secure additional investments.

Understanding these terms is essential for anyone involved in or considering entering the private equity space. Whether you’re an investor, part of a company seeking private equity investment, or a professional working within the industry, familiarity with this terminology will facilitate better communication and more informed decision-making.

At FD Capital, we recognize the challenges and opportunities that come with navigating the private equity landscape. Our mission is to support and mentor our diverse talent pool of financial professionals. This includes not only seasoned private equity specialists but also those who are taking their initial steps into this dynamic and challenging industry. By providing guidance, knowledge sharing, and access to a network of experienced professionals, we aim to empower our team to excel in the private equity space, ultimately contributing to the continued growth and success of the companies we invest in and the broader finance community.

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