Private Funds for Ordinary People: Fees, Flows & Performance

Timothy J. Riddiough and Jonathan A. Wiley

We study private funds available to retail investors of modest wealth. Our sample covers unlisted REITs for superior cash flow and fee data. Fee structures are skewed toward performance-insensitive components of the compensation contract, particularly front-end loads. The average unlisted REIT underperforms the listed benchmark by 6.5% per year, 5% of which is attributable to fees. Unlisted REITs underperform institutional-grade private equity real estate funds. Fees paid to investment advisors explain fundraising success, while past realized performance does not. The underperformance is consistent with the consequences of managerial conflicts of interest, inadequate governance mechanisms, opaque disclosure, and poor investment advice.