RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry

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.


The Importance of a Quality of Earnings Study

As we’ve been writing in recent blog posts, consolidation efforts in the RIA space are facing multiple headwinds. Among them, market conditions and inflation are motivating buyers to scrutinize profit estimates more than ever. In that light, we thought our readers would appreciate this guest post by our colleague, Jay D. Wilson, Jr., CFA, ASA, CBA, who works with banks and FinTechs. We’re getting more requests for QoE assessments from both the buy-side and sell-side (the latter wanting to buttress their CIMs).

Industry Trends

Private Capital Better Than Public for the RIA Community?

It’s Not Supposed to Work That Way, But…

Valuation professionals generally accept that public market capital is cheaper and leads to higher valuations than can be achieved by closely-held businesses. The words and actions of market participants who invest in RIAs do not necessarily align with this belief.

Industry Trends

What Can We Make of All This Turnover in the RIA Space?

Some Thoughts on How RIA Principals Can Minimize or Even Capitalize on the Chaos

You’re not the only one dealing with turnover. The pandemic spawned the Great Resignation, and rising inflation means there’s probably a better salary (or signing bonus) out there for anyone that’s looking. The ensuing talent war has created more industry turnover than the end of broker protocol in 2017, and RIA principals are having to invest more time and resources into recruitment and retention than ever before.

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” This phrase comes to mind as we discuss ways for smaller RIAs to capitalize on this chaos in this week’s post.


Is a Slowdown in RIA M&A Imminent?

RIA M&A activity and multiples have trended upwards for more than a decade now, culminating in new high watermarks for both activity and multiples set late last year. Deal momentum continued strong into the first quarter, but we sense at least initial signs of slowing as the macroeconomic backdrop has deteriorated.

Wealth Management

Investment Management Confronts Stagflation and More

Malaise, Anyone?

If you haven’t already, this may be a very good time to stress-test your financial condition to see what impact weakened markets, higher inflation, and rising interest rates will have on your firm. Unlike most things in finance, these other factors that accompany higher interest rates exacerbate the negative impact on RIAs, rather than mitigating them.

Industry Trends

What Happens to RIA EBITDA Multiples When Interest Rates Rise?

2021 may be remembered as both the busiest M&A year in history for the investment management industry, as well as the year in which valuation multiples in the space peaked. Transaction volume surged last year and carried into the first quarter, as deals negotiated during a period of cheap money, strong multiples, and the threat of changes in tax law drew both buyers and sellers to the negotiating table. It’s time to question what impact the change in market conditions has for the investment management space.

Investment Management

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