Managing VIP Money

Today's top financial boutiques offer private-equity funds and other goodies

A lot of wealthy folks piled into venture-capital funds at the peak of tech mania two years ago, and they have seen nothing but red ink. Last year such funds declined about 40% on average. The other pillar of what's known as private equity--leveraged-buyout funds--has had problems too, losing about 20% in 2001. Together, these are the worst returns on record for an exclusive class that often carries investment minimums of $1 million for access to the best managers. When the game goes this bad, what's a well-heeled investor to do?

The short answer: hang tough. Boutique investment firms catering to...

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