Valuing RIAs

Understanding the value of an investment 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, investment 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 investment management firm is fundamental to developing a valuation.