Our most read this year: technology, terms and fees

A look at our most viewed content this year paints a clear picture about what CFOs want to know.

In pfm‘s most-read stories this year, technology and how it could transform private equity firms was a major topic, as were fees and expenses. The following are the top 10 stories and why they mattered to you, our readers.

A primer on blockchain and artificial intelligence for PE – Even though the technology is still new, blockchain and ai have the potential to revolutionise both the way the finance function operates and how managers view and make decisions about portfolio companies. This guest article – our most viewed in 2018 – laid out how this would happen.

Riverside’s management CFO envisions a back-office revolution – Knowing what other firms are doing seems to be at the top of readers’ minds. Our profile of Jason Murphy, the chief financial officer of The Riverside Company’s management company exemplifies that. And – a theme emerges – he is hungry to know how the back office will benefit from the latest advancements in technology, such as blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Blackstone’s chief legal officer puts tech to work – Blackstone’s John Finley gave us the inside track on how tech is streamlining the mega firm’s back office. One example was the transformation of Blackstone’s anti-money-laundering system; Finley’s team moved from a manual hard-copy system to a proprietary product developed with the in-house innovations team, streamlining documentation requests according to risk rating and investor type.

LPs demand more granularity in fees and expenses – The most talked about area in private equity after returns? It must be fees. In the launch of pfm’s 2018 Fees and Expenses Benchmarking Survey, we reported on fees and expense practice relating to broken deals, fund restructurings and co-investments.

The holy trinity of terms: carried interest – This article started at the beginning: a biblical reference to Joseph’s plan to encourage grain production in ancient Egypt (“in gatherings that you will give a fifth to Pharaoh and the four parts shall be yours”). Our guest author – a former limited partner – examines the alignment benefits of carry from all angles.

Get someone to go over the waterfall – Should you outsource your waterfall calculations? That’s the question this article tries to answer. Hiring a third party to verify a firm’s waterfall calculations helps with transparency between LPs and GPs and could help lessen administrative burdens on both sides.

KKR switches to C-corporation – One of the biggest stories of the year was KKR’s decision to switch its structure from a partnership to a C-corporation, in the hopes of attracting more investors. The move was also made to take advantage of the new Trump tax reform, which lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, down from 35 percent. But find out more with a follow-up story as to whether KKR’s move was good for the stock price.

The holy trinity of terms: management fees – The holy trinity series takes another spot on our most-read list. This time the article focuses on management fees. Is it acceptable for GPs to benefit from significant carried interest and management fees? Read and find out.

LISTEN: Where are hurdle rates trending? – Among our most clicked on this year: a podcast that takes a close look at hurdle rates across private equity, infrastructure and real estate and finds some key differences across the asset classes.

Three approaches to calculate waterfall in private equity systems – Waterfall remains a popular topic among readers. There’s nothing standard about carried interest calculations, but find out whether you should take a customized approach or use a special tool to calculate the waterfall.