PE firms fail on digital communications

Just 20% of the world’s top fundraisers produce adequate digital output for their audience, according to a study.

Most of the world’s top private equity firms are major underperformers when it comes to providing digital content, with a couple not even having a website, according to research from Living Ratings.

The digital services analyst looked at the websites and social media channels of the 50 best-performing private equity firms in Private Equity International’s top 300. It found 80 percent are failing to provide engaging, substantive, audience-centric content that evidences claims made on their website.

Of the 92 percent of firms that have a LinkedIn channel, less than half have shared a post. And fewer than 50 percent of the firms have a Twitter profile, and even less – 29 percent – have tweeted from this account.

But there were some outstanding performances among the firms analysed. Ardian, ranked 21st in the PEI 300, was crowned the digital champion of the private equity world. Its website was described as “calm and confident throughout” and “easily digested, engaging, yet linked to more detail.”

Ardian, the only non-US firm to appear in the top five for digital strategy, was also praised for its strong social media presence. “It’s unique among the top 50 and shows a grasp of social media usually associated with retail or sophisticated fintech brands,” the report said.

KKR, which places second in both the PEI and Living Ratings ranking, understood the need to create an “accessible and human user experience,” and its social media strategy was deemed clear.

In third place, The Blackstone Group’s LinkedIn profile was said to stand out for its content, graphics and storytelling. “Its writing style hooks for the few extra seconds that make a big difference to the experience,” the report said. The firm ranked highest in the PEI 300.

Bain Capital and Neuberger Berman placed fourth and fifth in Living Ratings’ study. Bain’s website was considered to have better audience segmentation than most, while Neuberger Berman’s website was described as “robust yet engaging.”

“By providing specific, audience-centric content, private equity firms are signalling to portfolio companies and investors their shared ambitions. Enabling your audience to access carefully considered digital content is paramount,” Kate Shaw, CEO at Living Group, said.

It is widely acknowledged that many private equity firms are behind the times when it comes to harnessing technology. In a panel discussion at the 6th annual Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive conference in London in November, private fund managers were urged to use new regulatory requirements as an opportunity to enhance their digital support system.