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Blackstone Sees Half of Its Assets Coming From Individuals

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Joan Solotar, head of private wealth solutions at Blackstone, discusses the company’s strategy and overall outlook

As the world’s largest private equity firm plans to double assets under management over the next five years, it also wants individual investors to get a greater slice of the action.

About 15 percent to 20 percent of Blackstone Group LP’s annual fundraising currently comes from retail investors, Joan Solotar, head of private wealth solutions at the firm, said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker. That proportion, she said, will rise in the next five to 10 years.

“There’s no reason that ultimately it won’t account for half the assets we manage,” Solotar said. Pressed for a timeline, she said, “I’m going to give myself a little more than five years. Let’s say 10.”

Private equity firms are eyeing additional sources of capital as traditional clients, such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, become increasingly sophisticated at doing deals on their own. Meanwhile a shift to defined-contribution plans such as 401(k) from defined-benefit pension plans is making more individuals responsible for funding their retirement savings and selecting their own investments.

Retail clients come with a different set of concerns and priorities than institutions. The 10-year lockup on traditional buyout funds, for example, can be difficult for individuals who have larger or more unpredictable cash needs than a pension or sovereign wealth fund. Private capital vehicles also typically charge higher fees than liquid pools that individuals are accustomed to.

Solotar said Blackstone’s fees for retail offerings are “not all that different” from those for funds geared toward institutions. Structures such as interval funds or private real estate investment trusts can help address individuals’ liquidity needs when investing in alternative assets, she said.

“We are targeting the $1 million to $5 million investor,” Solotar said. “They are really under-penetrated in the alts business.”

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