Q1 Shows Glimmer of Hope for Active Managers and Continued Gains for Trust Banks

The First Quarter 2017 Asset Management newsletter has been released. This quarter’s newsletter focuses on the mutual fund sector, which has been plagued by asset outflows into ETFs and other passive strategies for most of the last decade. The first two months of this year do, however, offer a ray of hope as 45% of U.S. based active managers beat their relevant benchmark, resulting in February being the first month of inflows into active products since April 2015.

An All-Terrain Clause for your RIA’s Buy-Sell Agreement

Clients writing new buy-sell agreements or re-writing existing ones frequently ask us how often they should have their RIA valued. Like most things in life, it depends. We usually recommend having a firm valued annually, and most of our clients usually do just that. “Usually,” though, is subject to many specific considerations.

Valuing RIAs

In essence, RIAs may be both highly profitable and prospectively ephemeral. Balancing the particular risks and opportunities of a given asset management firm is fundamental to developing a valuation. If you haven’t already, read our whitepaper covering this balancing act in this week’s post.

ESG Investing Comes of Age Despite (or Maybe Because of) Trump

Investment strategies that screen for environmental, social, and governance criteria (ESG) is a still developing product niche that has, until recently, been more about talk than action. The pitch is that investing in businesses that demonstrate broad-based corporate responsibility provides a pathway to management teams who think long term, mitigate risk, and lead their industries. The beauty of an investment product like ESG is client stickiness.

Asset Manager Valuations Mixed at the Start of 2017

A quick glance at year-end pricing of publicly traded asset managers reveals a continued skid in cap factors for mutual fund providers offset by some multiple expansion for traditional and alternative asset managers.

The Market is Bearish on AUM Growth, but What if the Market is Wrong?

We have written at length about bearish signs in the RIA space, and valuation metrics seem to generally reflect a reduced growth outlook. We wonder, though, if things are really that bad. While, we suspect there is, over all, some phantom fee compression in the industry as assets are allocated to passive instruments and active managers who charge more don’t get the RFP they once would have, the other two themes focus on demographics and market outlook which are not, necessarily, bearish for the investment management space.

Gimme Shelter: Brexit Just Accelerates Downward Trend in RIA Valuations

Brexit’s full impact on the market is still to be determined, but a quick review of asset manager pricing reveals a valuation gap with the broader equity market that opened over the past twelve months, got much worse in June, and even accelerated over the past week. Sifting through the noise at quarter end, we pose, if market valuations in the industry are getting a haircut, what does that mean?

Earnings Calls 4Q15

Year-end 2015 closed out a quarter of elevated market volatility and falling asset prices in the traditional asset management industry. The year was marked by a rising flight to passive strategies and overall falling net inflows that pressured margins, causing many managers to take a hard look at their expenses and compensation structures going into 2016. Looking ahead, traditional asset managers are also facing headwinds from a slowdown in the global market, and a subdued (but cautiously optimistic) outlook at home. As we did last quarter, we take a look at pacemakers in the traditional asset management industry and outline four key themes we believe are expected to define 2016.

Asset Manager Valuation and Rules of Thumb

The shorthand method of valuation in many industries has long been some kind of “rule of thumb,” usually a multiple of some measure of gross scale or activity. In this post, we consider the pitfall of relying strictly on a rule of thumb.

Asset Manager M&A Continues Ascent Despite Sell-Off

Despite the recent setback in the markets, RIA transaction activity posted solid gains for Q3 and into the month of October. The market’s stabilization since the last correction has clearly boded well for sector M&A, and the future appears bright – as long as security pricing holds up.

The Valuation of Asset Management Firms

In this week’s blog, we present a new whitepaper with some summary thoughts on the valuation of RIAs. Understanding the value of an asset management business requires some appreciation for what is simple and what is complex. On one level, a business with almost no balance sheet, a recurring revenue stream, and an expense base that mainly consists of personnel costs could not be more straightforward. At the same time, asset management firms exist in a narrow space between client allocations and the capital markets, and depend on revenue streams that rarely carry contractual obligations and valuable staff members who often are not subject to employment agreements. In essence, RIAs may be both highly profitable and prospectively ephemeral. Balancing the particular risks and opportunities of a given asset management firm is fundamental to developing a valuation.