RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry

Category

Transactions


Current Events

Gin, Business Valuation, and Ryan Reynolds

Earn-Outs in RIA M&A

Earn-outs are commonly used in RIA deals, and we expect contingent payments to make up an even larger percent of deal consideration for the next few months, quarters, or years depending on how long the current economic uncertainty lasts.  And while we hope most of our clients would be thrilled by the prospect of $335 million in upfront cash payments, we don’t want you to end up feeling as Ryan Reynolds did last week.  In this post, we explain what an earn-out is, why they are commonly used in RIA transactions, and how earn-outs may be used as a saving grace for deal activity in the current economic environment.

COVID-19 Coverage

Independent RIAs Drive M&A During Downturn

RIA M&A Amid COVID-19 (Part II)

The outlook for RIA M&A at the end of the first quarter was murky. As anticipated, previously announced deals in the final stages of negotiations did close despite COVID-19, but new deal activity slowed some in the second quarter. Interestingly, independent RIAs, rather than consolidators, drove much of this deal activity.

Current Events Industry Trends Wealth Management

Don’t Get Distracted by Franklin/Legg and MS/E-Trade

Creative Planning’s Minority Sale is the Most Consequential RIA Deal So Far in 2020

It’s hard to imagine, but the most significant piece of news for the RIA community so far this year happened less than three weeks ago and is already almost forgotten: Peter Mallouk sold a minority stake in his firm, Creative Planning, to private equity firm General Atlantic.  The transaction is easily one of the largest, if not the largest, minority transaction in the history of the RIA industry, and potentially provides a blueprint for others to follow.

Wealth Management

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Drivers of Valuation in Wealth Management M&A

Fidelity recently published a study on M&A activity in the wealth management industry highlighting sellers’ ambitious expectations of the value of their firms Fidelity’s conclusion: sellers of investment management firms often “don’t entirely understand what drives valuation.” In this post we hope to provide insight to the owners of wealth management firms on how likely buyers value their firm.

Are Sponsor-Backed Initiatives Distorting RIA M&A?

Barbarians at the Gate 2 – Electric Boogaloo

Investment management is a great business.  Firms that don’t need to sell, don’t sell. If transaction activity is up, does this mean that more firms need to sell?  If pricing and deal terms are better, are the transactions available today really that much more attractive than those available a few years ago?  And is the culture of consolidation that has emerged in the RIA community sustainable?

RIA Consolidators Drive Record Deal Activity in 2019

Asset and Wealth Manager M&A Continues Decade-Long Upward Trend

Asset and wealth manager M&A continued at a rapid pace during the fourth quarter of 2019, rounding out a record year by many metrics.  Total deal count in 2019 rose 6% over 2018, reaching the highest level seen over the last decade.  While reported deal volume declined by 50% in 2019, this metric can be a less reliable indicator of transaction activity given the lack of disclosed deal terms and the influence of large transactions. In 2020, we expect several trends to continue as many of the forces that shaped the industry over the last decade remain in place. 

Private Equity’s Silent Push into the RIA Space

Is Private Equity the Solution to Your Succession Planning Needs?

Private equity pervades the RIA industry, but most of their recent interest is through consolidators or roll-up firms.  In this week’s post, we’ll discuss the implications of this trend and other considerations for RIA owners’ contemplating the PE route.

Industry Trends

What Should You Expect as an RIA Buyer or Seller?

Advisor Growth Strategies’ New Study Offers Insights into RIA Deal Mechanics

RIA M&A has been a well-publicized topic in the industry. There was a record level of RIA M&A in 2018, and so far in 2019 there are no signs that deal pace is slowing down. Against this backdrop, a new study conducted by Advisor Growth Strategies (AGS) and sponsored by BlackRock provides some insight into the state of deal terms in the RIA M&A market from the perspective of both buyers and sellers. We’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways from the study in this week’s post.

Acquisitions of Consolidators Continue to Drive RIA Deal Activity

Asset and Wealth Manager M&A Keeping Pace with 2018’s Record Levels

Through the first three quarters of 2019, asset and wealth manager M&A has kept up with 2018, the busiest year for sector M&A during the last decade.  Transaction activity is poised to continue at a rapid pace as business fundamentals and consolidation pressures continue to drive deal activity.  Several trends which have driven the uptick in sector M&A in recent years have continued into 2019, including increasing activity by RIA aggregators and mounting cost pressures.

Purchase Accounting Considerations for Banks Acquiring Asset Managers

As banks of all sizes seek new ways to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, we see many banks contemplating the acquisition of an existing asset management firm as a way to expand and diversify the range of services they can offer to clients. Transaction structures between banks and asset managers can be complicated, often including deal term nuances and clauses that have significant impact on fair value. Asset management firms are unique entities with value attributed to a number of different metrics (assets under management, management fee revenue, realized fee margin, etc.). It is important to understand how the characteristics of the asset management industry, in general, and those attributable to a specific firm, influence the values of the assets acquired in these transactions.

Current Events

One Year Later: The Focus IPO Reshaped the RIA Industry

Attention Drives Activity

It’s been a year since the Focus Financial IPO generated a similar level of conversation in the RIA community – and the transaction dominos have been falling ever since.  In that same year, Victory Capital pulled off a major acquisition, Affiliated Managers Group got back into the acquisition game following a two-year hiatus, United Capital was acquired by Goldman Sachs, and Mercer Advisors is soliciting bids.

I was thinking about all of this on a road trip across the southeast last week, in-between blasting Tom Petty on satellite radio and dropping in on a few clients.  At one of my first stops, a client asked if I saw a lot of M&A activity in the RIA space.  Yes, I replied, but I see even more headlines about it.  Plenty has changed in the RIA community in the last twelve months, but even more has not.

Asset Management

Q2 2019 Asset Manager M&A Trends

Asset and Wealth Manager M&A Keeping Pace with 2018’s Record Levels

Through the first half of 2019, asset and wealth manager M&A has kept pace with 2018, which was the busiest year for sector M&A over the last decade. M&A activity in the back half of 2019 is poised to continue at a rapid pace, as business fundamentals and consolidation pressures continue to drive deal activity. Several trends, which have driven the uptick in sector M&A in recent years, have continued into 2019, including increasing activity by RIA aggregators and rising cost pressures.

Practice Management

Unsolicited Offers for Your RIA

Is the First Bid the Best?

The primary danger of an unsolicited offer is that it lures potential sellers into thinking the deal is done and the process will be easy.  As with most things in life, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Industry Trends

Ignoring the Obvious: What the Market isn’t Telling us About RIA Valuations

Over the weekend, the Financial Times published an article touting the rising level of merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. wealth management industry.  The piece echoed much of the typical commentary on the RIA industry’s prospects for deal activity: a large, profitable, but fragmented community of firms needing scale to develop the necessary technology infrastructure and serve sophisticated client needs.  The article talked to leaders in several PE-backed consolidators and some M&A specialists in the space, all of whom talked their book in general agreement that valuations were strong and consolidation was on.  What the article didn’t address is that while private equity has indeed been actively pursuing the investment management industry, the public markets seem to have lost interest.

Q1 2019 Asset Manager M&A Trends

On the Heels of a Record Year, Will Asset Manager M&A Trends Continue to be Strong in 2019?

Several trends which have driven the uptick in sector M&A in recent years have continued into 2019, including increasing activity by RIA aggregators and rising cost pressures.  Total deal count during the first quarter of 2019 was flat compared to the same period in 2018, while deal count was up 35% for the twelve months ending March 31, 2019, compared to the comparative period ending March 31, 2018.  Reported deal value during the first quarter of 2019 was down significantly, although the quarterly data tends to be lumpy and many deals have undisclosed pricing. 

2018 Was a Banner Year for Asset Manager M&A

Asset manager M&A was robust throughout 2018 against a backdrop of volatile market conditions.  Several trends which have driven the uptick in sector M&A in recent years continued into 2018, including increasing activity by RIA aggregators and rising cost pressures.  Total deal count during 2018 increased 49% versus 2017 and total disclosed deal value was up nearly 140% to $18.0 billion.  In terms of both deal volume and deal count, asset manager M&A reached the highest levels since 2009.

Industry Trends

Asset Manager M&A Trends

Deal Activity Continues to Accelerate Through the Third Quarter 2018

Asset manager M&A was robust through the first three quarters of 2018 against a backdrop of volatile market conditions.  Several trends which have driven the uptick in sector M&A in recent years have continued into 2018, including increasing activity by RIA aggregators and rising cost pressures.  Total deal count during the first three quarters of 2018 increased 45% versus the same period in 2017 and total disclosed deal value was up over 150%.  In terms of both deal volume and deal count, M&A is on pace to reach the highest levels since 2009. 

Practice Management

The Role of Earn-outs in Asset Management M&A

Despite the relatively high level of financial sophistication among RIA buyers and sellers, and broad knowledge that substantial portions of value transacted depends on rewarding post-closing performance, contingent consideration remains a mystery to many industry M&A participants. Yet understanding earn-outs and the role they play in RIA deals is fundamental to understanding the value of these businesses, as well as how to represent oneself as a buyer or seller in a transaction. We offer this whitepaper to explore the basic economics of contingent consideration and the role it plays in negotiating RIA transactions.

Wealth Management

Does the Money Management Industry Need Consolidation?

The investment management industry is characterized by scores of independent firms who have found success in idiosyncrasy, providing clients a limitless variety of paths and approaches to common investment dilemmas.  Some would suggest that this is the source of the industry’s strength, but not everyone agrees, as evidenced by the Focus Financial IPO two weeks ago.

Industry Trends

Asset Manager M&A Activity Continues to Accelerate in 2018

Asset manager M&A was robust through the first two quarters of 2018 against a backdrop of volatile market conditions. Several trends which have driven the uptick in sector M&A have continued into 2018, including revenue and cost pressures, RIA aggregators, and an increasing interest from bank acquirers. We discuss further in this week’s post.

Investment Management

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