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Bristol Ebinger executive search
  • Writer's pictureBill Ebinger

Private Credit in 2023: The Unstoppable Ascent and the Road Ahead

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

This year, everyone's talking about private credit.

Private credit's transformation over the past two decades is nothing short of remarkable. From its embryonic stages in the early 2000s to the $1.5 trillion behemoth we see today, its growth trajectory has defied expectations.

Major players, both old and new, are diving in, capitalizing on the rising interest rates and the compelling yields. It's evident that private credit is not just a temporary trend — it’s a foundational shift in the financial landscape.

But with rapid growth comes inherent challenges. Asset management giants and specialized firms must be agile, ensuring they're not chasing the boom but strategically positioned for the long haul. It's about understanding the nuances of the sector, forecasting the potential pitfalls, and staying ahead of the curve.

The next chapters in the private credit story will be defined by those who can balance ambition with foresight and seize opportunities while mitigating risks.

The Data Doesn't Lie: Private Credit's Rapid Growth

The numbers speak for themselves. Private credit has catapulted from being virtually non-existent to managing assets worth trillions in just over two decades.

The growth isn't only impressive; it's staggering — especially when we consider that in 2015, assets under management stood at only $500bn. And with the first six months of 2023 recording thousands of job moves globally within the sector, the dynamism in the field is palpable.

Analyzing the numbers underscores the significance of private credit's ascent. With steady capital inflows each quarter, this is more than a fleeting trend. Investors recognize its potential, positioning private credit at the forefront of modern finance.

Major Players on the Move

Big names in the industry are making significant hires and acquisitions, signaling their intent and commitment to the sector. Goldman Sachs has exhibited an active interest, with a whopping $170 billion in private credit assets managed as of the end of 2022. The manager successfully amassed $4 billion in the first quarter for private credit strategies. This momentum continued into the second quarter, securing an additional $2 billion in assets.

Meanwhile, BlackRock's ambition of expanding its private credit business by double digits annually showcases the weight institutional giants place on this asset class.

The Allure of Private Credit

With rising borrowing costs, the private credit market is becoming increasingly attractive.

But why are we seeing such an unprecedented explosion of interest right now?

The loans offered by fund managers in this sector are typically floating rates, meaning as market rates grow, so do returns. It offers the lucrative combination of high yields without the price volatility commonly found in public markets. Add to this the current scenario where traditional bank failures are making headlines, and you have a perfect storm for private credit's golden moment.

The Underlying Risks

The boom in private credit, while presenting ample opportunities, comes with its set of challenges.

While interest rates rise, we're seeing increasing concerns about defaults. For instance, Oaktree's Howard Marks has warned that the sector is due for testing.

As the market matures and rates continue to put more pressure on the market, the risk of a surge in defaults becomes more pressing. Many companies may struggle to meet their interest payments, potentially losing control of their portfolio assets.

But here's where the expertise comes into play.

Private credit funds may position themselves to acquire assets from these struggling companies, given they have the right talent on board to identify and manage these opportunities.

Moreover, when we look at various regions, the challenges differ. For instance, regional banks account for many commercial real estate loans. Many of these loans have short durations and will soon need refinancing.

The question then becomes: who will step up to provide the capital?

Enter the hiring angle and why I’m even writing about all this.

As these intricate scenarios unfold, there's an increasing demand for professionals with a deep understanding of the asset class, a knack for identifying opportunities, and the skills to navigate the risks. We're talking about origination, structuring, diligence, and underwriting experts. A savvy hire in today's market brings expertise, critical thinking, and a future-oriented mindset to the table, positioning firms to thrive amidst market shifts.

The most successful players in the space are thinking ahead when it comes to building teams oriented around private debt — and we’re right in the mix with the best of them, supporting their growth every step of the way.

The Road Ahead

As 2023 progresses, one thing is clear: private credit is poised to play a significant role in the financial world, and it’s here to stay for a while. The ongoing regional banking crisis indicates a decrease in traditional banking's dominance, opening wider doors for private credit firms.

But with this tremendous opportunity comes an equal measure of responsibility. To truly thrive, firms must display a deep understanding of the sector's intricacies and a proactive approach to the challenges on the horizon.

What I see is — those with foresight, agility, and adaptability will pave the way for the future. As we navigate the rest of this year and beyond, the unfolding saga of private credit promises to be a riveting one.



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