A large part of my year so far has been spent exploring the major themes of private markets for 2017, and structuring the SuperInvestor 2017 agenda around these stories.
With SuperInvestor taking place in November it is perfectly placed to look ahead to what is in store for 2018.
Here are three of the biggest themes that we think will shape the private equity industry in 2018 and beyond:
Big story #1: Technological disruption and private equity
Private equity loves disruption. The industry views itself as nimble, disruptive and opportunistic and so well-placed to respond to disruptive trends. This is in stark contrast to trying to change the direction of the large publicly-listed company super tanker. We have identified three major ways in which technological disruption impacts private equity directly
The most obvious is technology as an investment theme. As industry after industry is disrupted, the tech specialists have attracted huge amounts of capital across the whole spectrum from VC through growth to large tech buyout. With the vast market capitalisations of the tech giants, and new disruptors moving in all the time there is no sign of this trend abating.
- The scene will be set by Prof. Juergen Schmidhuber, Scientific Director, Swiss AI Lab, IDSIA (USI & SUPSI); Chief Scientist, NNAISENSE; and widely considered to be the father of modern artificial intelligence discussing how AI is changing business and society right now.
- Hear GPs and LPs on which technological and process advances they see creating the greatest disruption over the next five years and what this means for investors in the Technology as an investment theme session.
- The very best growth capital and VC firms explore the newest themes that will generate the most exciting returns and the evolution of the European ecosystem set to enable them.
"Of huge interest to LPs and GPs alike is how disruptive technology is being used as a value acceleration tool for analogue portfolio companies."
- Two hugely experienced practitioners of this method, Seth Brody of Apax and Sven Tornqvist of EQT join Katja Salovaara of Ilmarinen to discuss the best tools and practices to put in place to release value through technological change
More contentious is how and whether tech can disrupt the alternatives space itself. In an industry based on relationships, trust and handshakes, it is hard to see how the kind of disruption which has already taken place in the mutual funds and banking space can be applied to private equity. But there are plenty of folks out there trying…
- Meet some of the latest startups at the fintech, blockchain and private equity session
- Hear an LP discuss what it took for them to due diligence and overcome internal objections to investing through a private credit technology platform.
Big story #2: Geopolitics – ouch!
Private equity has traditionally viewed itself as a long-term micro play, and to a certain extent immune from the geopolitical upheaval, but the seismic political events of the past year or so are making themselves felt in the ways that investors are allocating to the asset class. Geopolitical risk is hard to quantify and difficult to assess, though the SuperInvestor speakers will bravely make predictions and try to further our understanding of some of the drivers behind recent events.
- Don’t miss Bobby Vedral of Goldman Sachs, as he sums up politics and markets in 2017, and give his predictions for 2018
- Mary Jordan of the Washington Post covered President Trump on the campaign trail and has been covering the forces leading to his successful bid. Hear her thoughtful feedback on her recent travels through Trump country, and views on how to start forging common ground in a highly polarised society.
- Glenn August of Oakhill looks specifically at the potential for disruption in the private debt market. The turning credit cycle, and U.S. tax and regulatory reform could all have a major impact, leading to increasing divergence between the U.S. and European credit markets.
Big story #3: The private equity response: nimble, disruptive and opportunistic
Private equity professionals are nothing if not smart and it will be fascinating to see the innovations that will arise from all the current uncertainty. One thing is certain; change is afoot.
- Hear some of the most respected PE professionals in the world explain how they will apply the flexibility and creativity needed to respond to emerging trends and turn threats into opportunities
- And what of the industry itself? Will we even recognise the industry by 2030? Hear some of the most experienced and innovative personalities explore where they see private equity in 2030.
- LPs are very much a part of innovation, creativity and change. Some of the most sophisticated on the planet will explain how they are evolving what they do.