Vanguard Dips Toe into Private Equity

In February, low-cost index fund manager Vanguard announced plans to offer a private equity fund. This according to an article in Bloomberg.

“The move represents a surprising convergence of two very different investing worlds,” the article states, noting the contrast between Vanguard’s reputation for keeping things simple (by offering low-cost index funds) and the inherent complexity of private equity funds–which typically include “opaque” portfolios that can keep cash locked up for years.

Private equity funds, the article explains, “buy up entire private companies or take public companies private. They can use borrowed money to try to juice their returns, and they can also make venture capital investments in startups or own private loans.”

But Vanguard is reportedly “just dipping a toe in for now,” with the new offering being managed by an outside firm (HarbourVest Partners) and available only to institutions such as endowments and nonprofit foundations.

The firm’s head of product management, Kaitlyn Caughlin, said that Vanguard will apply its traditional focus on cost management to private equity, an area where “investor needs are growing.”