RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry

Category

Industry Trends


How Banks Build Value via Trust and Wealth Management Franchises

In this post, we have included the slide-deck from our presentation, “Valuing a Trust & Wealth Management Franchise” from Bank Director’s 2016 Acquire or Be Acquired conference. Even with the present market instability, banks have an interesting opportunity to expand their financial services while diversifying their revenue streams with asset management. We sense some growing demand for sophisticated trust services, and a lot of RIAs in the wealth management space see banks with existing trust departments as a complementary environment to sell into.

Transactions

Asset Manager Dealmaking Up in 2015 on Lower Volume

Despite the recent uptick, we believe the backlog of available deals remains fairly robust given the four year pause in transactions from 2009 to 2013 and the aging demographics of many investment management firms. The real threat to deal making would be a longer, more pronounced downturn or continued volatility in the equity markets that would crater AUM levels and investor confidence.

Alternative Assets

Are Asset Manager Valuations Headed Higher or Lower in 2016?

Barring Basis Risk, Barron’s is Bullish

Despite 195 nations signing onto the Paris Climate Conference commitment to clean energy last week, it looks like Santa will be stuffing most asset managers’ stockings with coal this Christmas. Hopefully it’s at least low-sulfur.

December has been a rough slog for the RIA space. So far it’s mostly been attributed to the cracks in high yield credit. With junk bonds stumbling shortly after Thanksgiving, managers with large high yield offerings are feeling the Grinch. One standout example: WDR. Waddell & Reed’s Ivy High Income Fund has suffered huge outflows this year. Pile outflows with asset devaluation and WDR’s stock has gotten crushed, losing almost a quarter of the company’s equity market cap so far this month (!).

Rough Quarter for the RIA Industry

Q3 was an especially bad quarter for asset managers, with the group losing over $40 billion in market capitalization during a six week skid. Given the sector’s run since the last financial crisis, many suggest this was overdue and only pulls RIA valuation levels closer to their historic norms. The multiple contraction reflects lower AUM balances and the anticipation of reduced fees on a more modest asset base.

Death Week (for Active Management?)

Mercer Capital’s asset management valuation practice is run from our main office in Memphis, Tennessee, and this time of year here means one thing: Death Week. Every year since his death on August 16, 1977, the city of Memphis spends a week memorializing Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. From all the press lately, you would expect that a similar wake was being held for active management, and with it, much of the RIA community. Elvis is dead, and so too must be active management. We live in the age of auto-tune and robo-advisors, a time when big vocal chords and beating the market have become anachronisms – or are they?

Margins and Compensation

Does Size Matter for RIAs?

Smaller asset managers outperformed their larger brethren over the last year. Still, it’s important to remember that our smallest sector of asset managers (AUM under $10 billion) is the least diversified and therefore most susceptible to company-specific events. Its strength is more attributable to DHIL’s (~80% of the market-weighted index) outsized gain in market value rather than any indication of investor preference towards smaller RIAs.

Margins and Compensation

Why Banks Are Interested in RIAs

As noted in Mercer Capital’s presentation to the 2014 Acquire or Be Acquired conference sponsored by Bank Director entitled Acquisitions of Non-Depositories by Banks, the relatively high margins associated with asset management is one of the many reasons that banks and other finance companies have been so interested in RIAs over the last few years. Powered by a fairly steady market tailwind over the last few years, many asset managers and trust companies have more than doubled in value since the financial crisis and may finally be posturing towards some kind of exit opportunity to take advantage of this growth.

Investment Management

Mercer Capital provides RIAs, trust companies, and investment consultants with corporate valuation, litigation support, transaction advisory, and related services