RIA Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Investment Management industry

Margins and Compensation

Compensation Structures for RIAs

Part I

The selection, implementation, and adaptation of compensation models significantly influence an RIA’s profits and the financial lives of its employees and shareholders. In part 1 of the series, we discuss the role of variable compensation, a critical component of RIA compensation models, in motivating employees and promoting business growth. We show how strategic incentive structures can better align the interests of employees with those of the company, effectively balancing risk and reward while fostering growth and resilience in varying market conditions.

Industry Trends Wealth Management

Trending: The Independent Trust Company

The independent trust industry has been flourishing, despite market turbulence, due to increased demand for trust administration services, the relative resilience of trust company fees, and demographic shifts favoring wealth growth. Companies are adapting to changes in the term structure of interest rates, benefiting from fee structures that provide stability in adverse market conditions, and capitalizing on the expanding pool of high-net-worth individuals. With evolving trust laws, growth opportunities tied to generational wealth transfer, and the importance of effective succession planning, independent trust companies are poised for a promising future in the competitive financial landscape.

Industry Trends Transactions

RIA M&A Update

The first half of 2023 witnessed a minor decline in wealth management M&A deal volume, but an increase in total transacted AUM and deal size, fueled by a surge in the number of deals with AUM over $1 billion and RIA partnerships with private equity firms. This robust RIA deal activity demonstrates the resilience of the sector in contrast to a significant decrease in overall M&A transaction value across all industries. As RIAs continue to offer a growth strategy for strategic buyers and investors, it is imperative for sellers to identify their motivations, the type of partner they seek, and align their goals with the buyer’s strategy to ensure post-transaction satisfaction.

Asset Management Industry Trends Wealth Management

Q2 2023: RIAs Finish Strong Following June’s Bull Market

Steady Interest Rates Calm Investor Nerves, Boosting RIA Performance

The second quarter of 2023 saw share prices for asset and wealth management firms reflect the broader market’s growth, particularly following the S&P 500’s transition into a bull market in June. However, smaller asset managers underperformed compared to their larger counterparts and the S&P 500, while earnings multiples for publicly traded RIAs saw an 8.8% increase due to a favorable interest rate environment and higher AUM balances. The upcoming report on Q2 M&A activity is set to provide further insight into these trends, and while comparisons with closely held RIAs require caution, focusing on core business practices can offer protection from market volatility.


Dust Off That Buy-Sell Agreement!

An Outdated Contract Is Hazardous to Your Wealth

This week’s post discusses the importance of regularly reviewing and understanding the terms of buy-sell agreements for RIAs, as these agreements can often become sources of contention when unexpected events occur. We highlight issues related to determining the transaction price during a buy-sell event, with scenarios such as fixed-price and formula pricing causing potential misunderstandings or disputes. We also offer advice on avoiding such conflicts, such as getting your RIA valued regularly to manage expectations and drafting fair pricing mechanisms, urging owners to familiarize themselves thoroughly with their buy-sell agreements.

Practice Management Transactions

4 Considerations for Your RIA’s Buy-Sell Agreement

Understanding the intricate complexities of buy-sell agreements can provide a basis for shareholder transactions and mitigate costly legal disputes down the road. We explain the pitfalls of rules-of-thumb based valuation measures, the importance of the ‘As Of’ date, the necessary qualifications of your appraiser, and how updating your agreement annually can manage expectations and avoid surprises. Stay informed and avoid the inevitable challenges by familiarizing yourself with these key components of a well-crafted buy-sell agreement.


Purchase Price Allocations for Asset and Wealth Manager Transactions

While closing a deal is an important milestone, it’s not the end of the process. After the ink dries on the purchase agreement, there’s a host of issues that the acquiror must address regarding the integration of and accounting for the acquired firm. In this blog post, we address one such post-transaction accounting issue. After a transaction, acquirers are generally required under accounting standards to perform what is known as a purchase price allocation, or PPA. This post explores the purchase price allocation process as it relates to acquisitions of assets and wealth management firms, highlighting the valuation considerations surrounding intangible assets like customer relationships, tradename, non-competition agreements, and the assembled workforce.

Current Events Industry Trends Practice Management Transactions

ISO: Cheap Capital

All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful

The much-ballyhooed consolidation trend in the RIA space is in a state of transition. Many acquisition platforms, fine-tuned in an era of zero interest rates and plentiful equity capital, are challenged in the post-ZIRP environment. Picking up on economist George Box’s observation that “all models are wrong, some are useful,” it’s worthwhile to survey the acquisition landscape and see what worked and what still works.

Practice Management Transactions

Four To-Dos Before You Sell Your Investment Management Firm

Considerations for Every RIA Owner

The intricate journey of selling a business you’ve built can be daunting, filled with complex emotions and countless considerations. This process, particularly in the investment management space, requires thorough preparation, strategic thinking, and an understanding of the many dynamics involved. In this post, we explore four critical areas that every investment manager must consider: developing a pragmatic pricing expectation, establishing a solid rationale for selling, preparing your firm’s financial documents, and understanding the tax implications of different deal structures.

Current Events Transactions

The Devil in the Details

Diving into the CI US/Bain Transaction

CI Financial’s pivot from a planned IPO to the sale of a 20% convertible preferred stake of its US wealth management division to a consortium of institutional investors is not only a significant move for CI Financial but also sends ripples through the wealth management industry. In this post, we explore the details of this transaction, the potential consequences for CI Financial, and the broader implications for the wealth management industry.

Investment Management

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