RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry

Practice Management Transactions

Bear Markets Cost RIA Sellers, But Boost Buyers

A Public Service Message That Earn-outs Aren’t Always Earned

One reason deal activity can remain strong in tough financial markets is that buyers can use earn-outs to control what they pay for deals, offering more money in the event that markets recover and justify higher valuations, and managing their outlays if performance lags. For sellers, the relevant consideration is bear markets may tank a big part of their expected deal consideration, well beyond their control. A falling tide may not simply work to the detriment of sellers, but also hand buyers a bargain purchase when markets improve. Earn-outs align interests in the near term but can provide asymmetric benefits in years ahead.

Industry Trends Transactions

Pzena Going Private Could Have Larger Implications for the Investment Management Industry

Last week Pzena Investment Management, Inc. announced that it had entered into an agreement to become a private company again via a transaction in which holders of PZN Class A common stock would receive $9.60 per share in cash, a 49% premium to its closing price before the announcement ($6.44). In this week’s post, we attempt to rationalize this premium and any implications for the investment management industry.

Asset Management Current Events Industry Trends Practice Management

Schwab’s 2022 Benchmarking Study Offers Insights Into the RIA Industry

How Does Your RIA Measure Up?

Schwab recently released its 2022 RIA Benchmarking Study.  The survey contains responses from over 1,200 RIAs representing $1.8 trillion in AUM to questions about firm operating performance, strategy, and practice management.  The survey is a great resource for RIA principals to see how their firm’s performance and direction measure up against the average firm.  In our blog post this week, we highlight some of the key results of the survey.

Trust Companies

Is the Best Wealth Management Platform Really an Independent Trust Company?

The most frequently ignored topic in the wealth management industry may be its first cousin, the independent trust industry. While many still associate trust work with banks, and banks still represent more than three-quarters of the trust industry, the growing prominence of independent trust companies is causing many participants in the investment management space to take another look. In some regards, independent trustcos look a lot like wealth managers, only more evolved. In this post, we discuss fees, what the current market environment and demographics mean for trustcos, regulatory trends, and our outlook for the future.

Current Events Industry Trends

Another Tumultuous Quarter for RIA Stocks Puts the Industry Firmly in Bear Market Territory

Publicly Traded Alt Managers and RIA Aggregators Have Lost Nearly Half Their Value Since Peaking Last November

The RIA sector continued its losing streak last quarter, underperforming all classes of the S&P, which also saw a decline. Because this industry is primarily invested in stocks and bonds, which have declined significantly over the past six months, the market is contributing to the issue. Asset and wealth managers continued underperformance is probably due to lower industry margins as AUM and revenue decline along with the market while labor costs continue to rise. In this week’s post, learn more about this and its effects.

Industry Trends Transactions

RIA M&A Update

The continued strength of RIA M&A activity amidst the current environment dominated by inflation, rising interest rates, and a tight labor market is noteworthy given that all of these factors could put a strain on the supply and demand dynamics that have driven deal activity in recent years. Rising costs and interest rates coupled with a declining fee base will put pressure on highly-leveraged consolidator models, and a potential downturn in performance could put some sellers on the sidelines until fundamentals improve. Despite these pressures, the market has proven robust (at least so far). 

What does all this mean for your RIA if you are planning to grow through strategic acquisitions, considering internal transactions, or considering to sell? Read this week’s post to find out.

Industry Trends

What’s the Price of Growth?

Infrastructure Spending in the Investment Management Community

Growth at a reasonable price (margin) is an old concept in investment management, but it bears extending to practice management as well. RIAs are fortunate not to have to spend billions on factories, only to grieve them as “money furnaces” (sorry Elon). But that doesn’t mean RIAs don’t have the same imperative to invest in the people who compose their businesses.

Margins and Compensation

Compensation Structures for RIAs: Part II

There are three basic components of compensation for investment management firms: Base salary/Benefits, Variable Compensation/Bonus, and Equity Compensation. This week we focus on Equity Compensation.

Equity incentives serve an important function by aligning the interests of employees with that of the company and its shareholders. While base salary and annual variable compensation serve as shorter-term incentives, equity incentives serve to motivate employees to grow the value of the business over a longer time period and play an important role in increasing an employee’s ties to the firm and promoting retention. While implementing an equity incentive plan will typically have a dilutive impact on existing shareholders, a properly structured plan will facilitate attracting and retaining the right talent and motivating participating employees to grow the value of the business over time. In that sense, a well-structured equity incentive plan is accretive to existing shareholders, not dilutive.

Margins and Compensation

Compensation Structures for RIAs: Part I

Compensation models are the subject of a significant amount of hand-wringing for RIA principals, and for good reason. Out of all the decisions RIA principals need to make, compensation programs often have the single biggest impact on an RIA’s P&L and the financial lives of its employees and shareholders.

In part one of this series, we focus our attention on the variable compensation component. In the coming posts, we’ll address additional compensation considerations such as equity compensation options and allocation processes.

Investment Management

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