A Complete Guide to Learn the Lingo of Private Equity Investing
Nov 22, 2023 By Triston Martin


Investment money for privately owned companies that are not publicly listed. Private equity funds' goal is to boost the worth of the businesses they buy, both public and private, before selling them. Private equity funds frequently have maturities of at least ten years. However, they typically hold onto businesses for five years on average. Private equity investments are difficult to sell before they achieve their full potential, and the profits may not materialize for years, making them illiquid assets.

Learn the Lingo of Private Equity Investing:

Joint Venture

The investors who provide the bulk of the capital and cover the management costs are the limited partners of a private equity firm. They are shielded from any losses that exceed their initial investment and any legal actions that the fund or its businesses may face.

Limited Liability Company

A legal entity, typically a partnership, is the general partner of a private equity fund and is responsible for managing the fund's assets. A carried interest payment of 20% (range from 5%-30%) of fund profits has historically been made in addition to general partner management fees of 2% of fund assets. As a result, general partners may disperse some of their carried interest to the different asset managers.

A Carry

The primary source of income for private equity fund managers is carried interest. It is calculated based on a predetermined percentage of the fund's earnings, typically 20% of the excess above the minimum rate of return guaranteed to limited partners. The income from carried interest is classified as a long-term capital gain and taxed at a rate lower than the top marginal rate if an investment in a fund is held for longer than three years. Critics of the clause claim that highly compensated private equity managers pay fewer taxes than suppliers of labor or commercial services produced similarly. Carry interest proponents contend that since it unfairly represents capital gains even when the recipient's capital didn't generate them, it shouldn't be taxed as income.

Favored Recoil, Recoupment

Like many alternative investments, private equity has a sophisticated compensation structure often predetermined in advance, including the hurdle rate and clawback. The fund's limited partners must generate a return above the hurdle rate for the general partner to receive carried interest (also called the preferred return). It is estimated that the average rate of return will be 8%. If the fund's cumulative returns fall short of the hurdle rate, limited partners can "claw back" carried interest from prior purchases they paid to the general partner.

Capital Commitments, Withdrawals, and Vintages

The transfer of the committed funds of the limited partners frequently lags. The act of giving and investing money depends on the likelihood of profit. To obtain funds, if the general partner discovers a new investment opportunity that necessitates it, the general partner may issue drawdowns, often referred to as capital calls, to the limited partners. When distributing capital for the first time, private equity firms have a "vintage year," and "paid-in" funds are sums that have already been invested. The sum of all capital contributions utilized to purchase fund units constitutes a fund's total invested capital.

Amount Distributed Cumulatively

When evaluating the performance of a private equity fund, investors should consider the cumulative distributions or total earnings distributed to limited partners, as well as the timing of these payouts.

Value After Use

The market value of the unsold shares owned by limited partners constitutes a fund's "residual value." A private equity fund's residual value is its net asset value. The discrepancy between a private equity fund's residual value and the purchase price is known as unrealized gains or losses. The residual value of a private equity transaction refers to the unsold component. Private equity funds usually include this number in their quarterly reports.

Investment Return to Equity Ratios in Private Companies

Once we have established a common vocabulary, we can move on to more complex subjects, such as the financial ratios that should be taken into account when completing a private equity deal. These statistics are crucial to the private equity industry, and GIPS-compliant private equity firms use them to report their performance to prospective investors.

Multiple Investments

TVPI multiple and investment multiples are related. Divide all fund payouts and assets by the initial investment to determine the return on investment. One indicator used to assess a fund's performance is total returns expressed as a percentage of the initial investment. Investment multiples disregard the timing of return distributions. Private equity businesses once required $25 million in funding from influential organizations and affluent individuals. Since then, this has been reduced somewhat to $25,000 for accredited investors. In this industry, people have developed specialized vocabulary and communication structures that make it challenging for outsiders to understand them.


Astute investors have taken notice of the private equity sector's steady profitability. Investors will need a thorough awareness of the industry jargon to benefit from the expanding importance of the sector. Investors can make better judgments if they are familiar with the parameters used to assess private equity businesses.