How Do Private Equity Firms Make Money? All You Need To Know

Investors can choose between various investments in the market that can provide returns. Each of these assets comes with some risks as well. Usually, investors manage their portfolios themselves. However, some investors may also pool their funds together.

This way, they can hire a manager to handle their investments. These investments may come in various forms, such as mutual or equity-traded funds.

Investment management is the term used to describe professional services to manage investors’ assets. It may include various securities, including shares, bonds, and other assets. Usually, each fund or pool comes with specific goals that benefit investors.

These investors may consist of institutions or individuals. Another term used to describe investment funds is asset management. The process may differ between various pools. However, they usually have similar objectives.

Investors can get returns from the typical asset investments. However, they can also make significant gains on alternative investments.

These may include various classes, securities, and assets. One of these consists of private equity. For investors, private equity funds can facilitate investment in these assets. These firms can make significant money from their operations. Before discussing that, it is crucial to understand private equity firms.

What is a Private Equity Firm?

A private equity firm denotes an investment management company that pools investors’ finances. These firms provide financial backing to private equity companies. Usually, these may include startups or small companies with significant potential.

Private equity funds use investing strategies to manage funds. These companies utilize these strategies along investors’ expectations to reach their objectives.

Private equity firms exist to manage funds in private equity investments. These firms invest in private companies that can provide significant returns.

Usually, these companies are not well-known and can have higher potential than other investments. In some cases, investors may also invest in buying out public companies. As a result, these companies get delisted and become private.

Private equity represents an alternative investment class that consists of capital not listed on a public exchange. Investors seek these companies out to increase their potential returns on investments. Usually, investors can achieve better gains on these investments if they make the right decision.

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However, investors may also avoid investing in private equity due to the limitations. If they choose these companies, they can use private equity firms or do so individually.

Private equity firms usually include institutional investors. These may consist of pension funds, large private equity companies, or accredited investors. Usually, these firms make direct investments in a private company.

The primary objective of these investments is to gain influence or control over the underlying company’s operations. However, they may need significant resources to achieve that objective.

Overall, private equity firms are funds that pool investors’ funds and invest them in private companies. In most cases, these investors include institutions with significant resources.

Since these investments entail substantial capital, private equity firms may accept specific investors only. Nonetheless, they can create substantial returns for those investors. In this process, these firms also make money.

How Do Private Equity Firms Make Money?

The private equity industry consists of hundreds of firms that make a significant amount of money annually. However, some may question how these private equity firms make money.

Private equity firms have access to various revenue streams. Some of these streams are unique to the industry. However, these firms generate revenues from three sources. These include management fees, carried interest, and dividend recapitalizations.

Management fees are the most crucial revenue stream for most private equity firms. These fees are one of the most significant income sources for those firms. However, carried interest and dividend recapitalizations are also crucial to making money. Private equity firms may use these sources together to magnify their revenues. An explanation of each revenue stream is below.

Management fees

Management fees are the essence of the services provided by private equity firms. Traditionally, most firms have charged an LP 2$ of committed capital. These fees do not depend on the firm’s success or the underlying investments.

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Private equity firms charge them regardless of their performance. For private equity firms, these fees constitute the most consistent revenue stream.

Management fees are an essential part of any equity firm or funds. Usually, private equity firms charge these fees annually. For these firms, these fees constitute a fixed income that funds operations.

The management fees can differ between one firm to another. For some private equity firms, management fees can be as low as 1%. However, some firms may also go lower in specific circumstances.

During the initial deal, private equity firms may charge a fee of 1% of the deal amount. These fees are low since most private equity investors emphasize performance.

Since these fees do not depend on how the investments perform, most firms keep them low. These firms may focus more on carried interest instead. Nonetheless, management constitutes a significant source of income for most private equity firms.

Carried interest

Carried interest is similar to the management fee. However, it does not entail a fixed income or percentage of capital.

Instead, carried interest involves a share of any profits that a private equity firm generates. These firms receive the interest as compensation for the performance of the underlying investments.

Carried interest seeks to address the issue with management fees. It relies on the private equity firm performing to make money.

Private equity firms use carried interest to charge investors for providing returns. It constitutes a type of performance fee and acts to motivate the fund manager.

However, investors may set a specific threshold for the performance. If the fund performs better than that threshold, the managers and firm will receive the carried interest. If they fail to hit that level, they cannot make any income.

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For private equity firms, carried interest serves as a primary income source. Along with management fees, this income can be a crucial revenue source.

Usually, this interest can amount to a quarter of a firm’s earnings or annual profits. Management fees serve to cover the costs of managing and handling funds. However, carried interest associates the fund’s performance to the revenues earned.

Dividend recapitalization

Dividend recap, or dividend recapitalization, is the other income source for private equity firms. This process involves issuing new debt by a private company. Later, these firms use the obligation to pay a special dividend to their investors.

Essentially, the private equity firm incurs additional debt on the company’s balance sheet. By doing so, it delivers early payments to their limited investors. It reduces the risks associated with the firm and its investors.

Most private equity firms use dividend recap when exiting an investment. Usually, they use it as a viable alternative to the conventional exit routes, such as selling the stake to other firms.

Similarly, it can be an alternative way to earn on these investments when not opting for an IPO. Private equity firms used divided recap to recover an initial investment from the underlying company.

Private equity firms may also employ divided recap when recovering their initial investment. This way, they do not lose control of their stake in the underlying company.

Furthermore, this process eliminates the necessity to use the company’s earned profits for dividend distribution. However, it can put the underlying company at higher risks.


Private equity firms are crucial in managing funds and helping private equity investors. These firms pool finances from institutional investors and invest in private equity companies. In exchange, they earn money from those investors. This money comes in three streams. These include management fees, carried interest, and dividend recapitalization. Each of these can provide significant revenues to the private equity firm.