RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry


Wealth Management

Current Events

Fidelity’s Latest Move to Stay on Top of RIA Trends

Fidelity’s Partnership with Merchant Investment Management

On June 10th, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions and Merchant Investment Management announced a new partnership to increase wealth managers’ access to capital for acquisitions and growth initiates. The deal opens up a sizable new sales channel for Merchant, and in return, Fidelity’s behemoth platform tacks on a few additional selling points to entice M&A-minded RIAs. 

2019 CFA Institute Wealth Management Conference Recap

Last week, Matt Crow, Brooks Hamner, Taryn Burgess, and Zach Milam attended the 2019 CFA Institute Wealth Management Conference in Fort Lauderdale.  We didn’t get a total headcount, but attendance appeared to be up from last year’s event.  There are probably a number of explanations for this, but perhaps the most plausible was the interest in this year’s focus on the psychological side of wealth management, which explored behavioral finance tendencies and how emotional decision-making can impact investment performance.  For this post, we’ve elected to summarize some of these presentations and their implications for financial advisors.

Whitepaper Release: How to Value a Wealth Management Firm

Investment management is a younger profession than many, but it too has evolved and is evolving, into an industry of sub-specialties of manufacturing (asset management) and distribution (wealth management).  Wealth management is in a dynamic period, with changing client service models, challenges to profitability, the augmentation and distraction of technology, consolidation in some ways and fragmentation in others.

Recognizing this, we thought it would be useful to put together a whitepaper on valuation issues that are unique to the wealth management industry.  While there are certainly characteristics of wealth management firms that are common to all RIAs, there are enough distinctions to caution anyone from painting the profession with too broad a brush.

What Wealth Managers Need to Know About the Market Approach

The market approach is a general way of determining the value of a business which utilizes observed market multiples applied to the subject company’s performance metrics to determine an indication of value.  The “market” in market approach can refer to either public or private markets, and in some cases the market for the subject company’s own stock if there have been prior arms’ length transactions.  The idea behind the market approach is simple: similar assets should trade at similar multiples (the caveat being that determining what is similar is often not so simple).  The market approach is often informative when determining the value of a wealth management firm.

What Wealth Managers Need to Know About the Income Approach

There are three general approaches to determining the value of a business: the asset-based approach, the income approach, and the market approach.  The three approaches refer to different bases upon which value may be measured, each of which may be relevant to determining the final value.  Ultimately, the concluded valuation will reflect consideration of one or more of these approaches (and perhaps several underlying methods) based on those most indicative of value for the subject interest. This week, we take a look at how the income approach is used to value wealth management firms.

The Anatomy of a Wealth Management Firm

A Closer Look at a Business that Continues to Pivot with Client Needs

Wealth management firms have significantly evolved over the last several decades for various reasons. For purposes of this post, we provide a bit of history on the industry, basic characteristics of today’s wealth management firm, and take a look at recent performance.

Current Events

Is Focus Financial an All-Terrain Investment Vehicle?

Management Claims Their Model is Recession Proof; Unfortunately, it isn’t Analyst Proof.

Last week was turbulent for equities around the globe, but Focus Financial (Nasdaq: FOCS) was hit particularly hard.  Less than five months since IPO, Focus closed Friday at $27.45, decidedly below where the offering priced at $33, and not much more than half the share price achieved less than three months ago.

How Generational Differences Should Define Advisors’ Interactions with Clients

A Review of The Gen-Savvy Financial Advisor by Cam Marston

Generational differences were prominent as I spent time with my grandparents, parents, and cousins over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  But why and how should Financial Advisors take note of these differences as they market and structure their services to meet the needs of different age groups?

Asset Management Industry Trends

The Haves and Have-Nots of the RIA Industry

Despite the old maxim of a rising tide lifting all boats, the current markets are clearly more buoyant for wealth management firms than asset management firms.  Many asset managers are trading at or near all-time lows from a valuation perspective, while financial advisory shops continue to accumulate client assets.  For this week’s post, we’ll take a closer look at this trend, and what it means for the broader industry.


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.

Wealth Management Industry: Opportunities Abound Despite Headwinds

Wealth management firms have fared well in recent years on the back of rising markets, but the underlying drivers suggest an industry in flux; global investible assets are at all time highs, intergenerational wealth transfer is accelerating, and FinTech products are poised to disrupt.  Yet, many analysts are skeptical about the industry’s prospects.  Rising global wealth means that there are more assets for wealth managers to manage, and intergenerational wealth transfer means that there are also more opportunities to gain (and lose) clients.  FinTech products threaten competition, but also offer efficiencies for agile firms.  Depending on your point of view, the industry is either poised to grow or on the verge of massive disruption.

Asset Management

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