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Carried Interest


Carried interest, also known as “carry,” is a financial term that refers to the share of profits that investment managers or fund managers receive from the investments they manage. It acts as a performance fee, incentivizing these professionals to achieve high returns on their investments. Typically, carried interest is a percentage of the total profits made, often around 20%, and is paid on top of the management fee.


The phonetics for “Carried Interest” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are: /ˈkærid ˈɪntərəst/

Key Takeaways

  1. Carried Interest is a profit-sharing arrangement: It refers to the share of profits that a fund manager, typically a general partner in a private equity or venture capital fund, receives after a successful return on investment. This acts as an incentive for fund managers to generate high returns for their investors.
  2. Tax implications: The way carried interest is taxed can be a contentious issue. Currently, in many jurisdictions, it is often taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, as it qualifies as capital gains. This has led to debates on whether carried interest should be taxed at the higher income tax rate.
  3. Controversial and debated topic: Due to the potential for high earnings with a lower tax rate, carried interest has become the subject of political debates and is often scrutinized. Some argue that the current tax structure unfairly benefits wealthy fund managers, while others believe that it encourages investment and risk-taking, spurring economic growth.


Carried interest is an important financial term in the world of business and finance, particularly in private equity and venture capital industries. It refers to the share of profits that a fund manager earns from managing a fund’s investments, usually without contributing any personal capital to the fund. As an incentive-based form of compensation, carried interest aligns the interests of fund managers with those of the investors, encouraging fund managers to maximize the fund’s performance. It also helps to attract and retain top talent within the investment management industry. Moreover, the tax treatment of carried interest, often as long-term capital gains, has implications on fund managers’ income and has been a subject of ongoing policy debates.


Carried interest is a financial incentive provided to investment managers or general partners (GPs) of private equity funds, hedge funds, and other investment vehicles. It serves as a means to align the interests of the investment managers with those of the fund’s investors, also known as limited partners (LPs). The purpose of carried interest is to motivate fund managers to generate positive returns for the fund, as their compensation is directly tied to the fund’s performance. Essentially, carried interest allows fund managers to share in the profits generated from their investment decisions, which encourages them to work diligently in identifying and managing profitable investment opportunities on behalf of the fund’s investors. Carried interest is typically structured as a percentage of the fund’s profits, which is received by the general partners in addition to a management fee that covers the fund’s basic operating expenses. The most common carried interest percentage is 20%, although this can vary depending on the fund and the specific terms agreed upon between the general partners and limited partners. In practice, carried interest is applied only after the fund has achieved a predetermined threshold of return (known as the “hurdle rate”) to ensure that the investors receive an acceptable level of return before the investment managers are rewarded. By linking the compensation of investment managers to the fund’s overall success, carried interest aims to incentivize performance and promote the prudent management of investment capital, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders involved in the venture.


Carried interest, also known as “carry,” refers to the share of profits that a private equity firm or investment fund manager receives as compensation, typically without contributing any initial capital. It is often a significant portion of income for managers in private equity, real estate, and hedge funds. Here are three real-world examples of carried interest: 1. Private Equity Firm: Suppose a private equity firm raises $100 million from investors to acquire and manage a portfolio of companies. The fund manager invests the capital and is successful in generating profits. As part of its compensation structure, the firm receives approximately 20% carried interest on the overall profits generated from the investment. This provides the firm a substantial share of the returns, offering a strong incentive to maximize performance. 2. Real Estate Investment Fund: A real estate investment fund acquires, develops, and manages properties on behalf of its investors. For example, the fund raises $50 million and invests in a mix of commercial and residential real estate projects. After generating a 15% return on investment, the fund manager earns a carried interest of 20% on the profits, aligning their interests with the investors and rewarding them for their expertise and efforts. 3. Hedge Fund Manager: A hedge fund manager invests in a diversified range of assets such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies to generate consistent returns. This manager raises $200 million in capital, and after a year of effective investment strategies, they achieve a performance gain of 10%. As compensation for their work, the hedge fund manager earns a carried interest of 20% of the total profits, incentivizing them to continue identifying lucrative investment opportunities for their clients.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is carried interest?
Carried interest, also known as “carry,” is a share of the profits paid to investment managers or private equity partners for managing and generating a return on investment for the funds they oversee. It typically serves as a performance fee or incentive for the manager.
How is carried interest calculated?
Carried interest is commonly calculated by taking a percentage of the profits generated by the investment fund, usually around 20%. The calculation is typically applied once the fund has returned the initial capital contributed by the investors and met the required performance threshold known as the hurdle rate.
What is the purpose of carried interest?
The purpose of carried interest is to incentivize fund managers or general partners to maximize the returns of the fund. By tying their compensation to the fund’s performance, it aligns the interests of the managers with those of the fund’s investors.
How do fund managers receive carried interest?
Fund managers receive carried interest after the fund’s investments have been sold and profits have been realized. It is generally paid out after investors have received their initial capital back and the predefined hurdle rate is met.
Is carried interest taxed differently than regular income?
Yes, carried interest is often taxed at a lower rate than regular income because it is treated as long-term capital gains, which typically have lower tax rates than ordinary income. However, tax regulations regarding carried interest can vary by country and are subject to change.
What is the difference between carried interest and management fees?
Carried interest is a performance-based fee earned by fund managers, whereas management fees are set fees paid by investors to fund managers for operating and overseeing the fund. Management fees are typically charged on an annual basis and calculated as a percentage of the total assets under management.
Do all investment funds have carried interest?
Not all investment funds use carried interest as part of their fee structures. It is most commonly associated with private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds. Mutual funds and other types of investment funds typically do not include carried interest, as their fee structures are based on management fees and expense ratios.
Can carried interest be negotiated?
Yes, the terms of carried interest, such as the percentage, hurdle rate, and other provisions, can be negotiated between investors and fund managers when establishing the fund. Institutional investors, such as pension funds and endowments, may have increased bargaining power to negotiate more favorable terms.

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