Private equity attracts the brightest and the best, setting standards and creating change – at pace – other industries can only dream of. Investors enjoy excellent returns on their capital and the role and influence of private equity is only increasing: over the last decade the size of the private capital market globally has more than doubled.

But with this comes greater attention. Private equity is no longer private – even if it would like to be. Many of the largest firms in particular have expanded beyond the traditional buyout models that formed the cornerstone of the industry to include divisions dedicated to private credit, insurance, infrastructure investment and retail investors.

With this move to the more mainstream comes a period of greater scrutiny for private equity. Regulators poring over the detail. Politicians paying greater attention. Fodder for a media always looking to reveal more. Boards and management teams not just looking for capital, but the right capital and the right partner in an ever more exposed and competitive business world. The link between how a business is believed and perceived to operate – its reputation – and its route to investors, to customers, to value, has never been more clearly drawn.

Together with Nepean, a management consultancy specialising in reputation, we set out to understand how private equity firms view reputation and their approach to communications. We spoke to more than 20 communications leaders across a spectrum of private equity companies from global listed firms to mid-market players. We asked them what was and wasn’t in their remit, where the function sat in the organisation, how the firm prioritised reputation and where there was still some way to go, what they measured (spoiler alert, not much), how they were resourced, and much more.

Four key themes emerged providing useful insights and data points for communications leaders and their colleagues, from the CEO to the investor relations team, to consider as they seek to maximise their return on reputation.

To request a copy of “Soft Capital – The Value of Reputation in Private Equity” please email:

Birchwood Knight is an executive search firm for the communications discipline. We help CEOs to hire their Chief Communications Officers and CCOs to build high performing teams. We have a proven track record of helping private equity firms and their portfolio companies to hire the people who protect and promote their reputations, both in the UK and internationally.


28th November 2023

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