Nine Considerations For Financial Advisors Selling Their RIAs

Nine Considerations For Financial Advisors Selling Their RIAs

The motivation for financial advisors to sell their RIAs can vary with their goals, ages, and retirement plans. Younger advisors may want to sell their firms to be part of a bigger firm that can help them add new clients, assets, and revenues. Older advisors may want to reduce their responsibilities to spend more time with family and friends or pursue personal interests. 

Advisors in their 60’s may want to sell, retire, and enjoy their golden years. However, increasing numbers of advisors are working well into their 70’s—albeit with fewer responsibilities. Some people believe your 70s are the new 50s due to rising longevity and healthier lifestyles.

Is there a best time for financial advisors to sell their RIAs? 

Not really. There is an equal probability future valuations of businesses could be higher or lower based on several variables that are difficult to control. This article describes the top nine considerations every financial advisor should think about before they start the process of selling their business to another RIA.

1. What Is Your Main Motive for Selling the Business?

A quick retirement could be your main motive. Or, you could sell and be obligated to stay for a contracted period of time until the transition process is completed (one to three years). 

Perhaps your motive is to lighten your daily workload. This can free you up to focus on the business activities you consider the highest and best use of your time.

Or, maybe you realize that you need more support to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. In particular, you may want to work with investors who have more complex financial situations. 

2. How Will the Change in Ownership Impact Your Clients?

It stands to reason that a change in ownership should be presented to your clients in the most positive way possible. The impact of any changes can be positioned as features that benefit them:

  • Your new duties and responsibilities
  • Additional planning advice and services
  • New investment services
  • Custodial services
  • Reporting services
  • Service fees

You may also want to describe your new succession plan with the successor already in place. This may be easier for some of your clients with more complex, long-term financial concerns. 

3. How Will Your Employees Be Impacted by the Sale?

Your employees may not be as sensitive to change as your clients. Nevertheless, you certainly don’t want any surprises in regard to their staying with your new firm: Are there competitive severance packages for anyone who may lose their job when the buyer and seller consolidate their resources?

Will there be any retention bonuses to incentivize key employees who have no ownership stake in your business to stay? Will their salaries, benefits, and bonuses stay the same, get better, or be reduced for those who are staying?

4. Do You and the Buyer Operate in a Compatible Business Culture?

Every firm in the wealth management industry has a business culture that drives its policies, procedures, business practices, and beliefs. All of this translates into how they treat their clients and employees.

The more similar their business beliefs and practices are to your own, the easier it will be to assimilate the professionals who work for the buyer and the seller.

5. How Does the Firm You Merge With Open New Doors to Bigger Revenue Streams?

One example could be an increase in your minimum asset requirement. For example, your current minimum is $250,000, and your new minimum will be $1,000,000.

The ideal merger candidate would also make you more competitive in markets that have been difficult for you to penetrate in the past. For instance, you might want to work with retirees who own substantial assets, but you have never made solid connections in that marketplace.

Similarly, your ideal client might be a business owner who is about to retire, but that marketplace is also difficult to penetrate unless you bring something unique to the table.

6. Do You and the RIA You Are Merging With Have Reasonably Compatible Compensation Arrangements?

Most financial advisors and RIAs are compensated with asset-based fees that start at 100 to 150 bps. Normally they also have a sliding schedule of fees that applies when investors contribute more assets (or the assets increase in value).

Planning services may be wrapped into the asset-based fee or charged separately in the form of a fixed or subscription-based fee. Only a small percentage of financial advisors charge hourly fees for their planning services. An even smaller percentage charge a performance-based fee for their advice and services.

7. Will You Have Access to Additional Professionals That Provide Advice and Services for Your Ideal Types of Clients?

The additional professionals could be a CIO, a CMO, or a CCO who was not affordable based on the size of your previous firm. Now, these professionals can help you provide higher quality services to your clients, convert more prospects into clients, and protect your interests (based on industry regulations).

8. Will You Have Access to Higher End Technologies That Impact Your Productivity, Services, and Results?

Improved technology, pricing, platform services, and new marketing services are just some of the benefits of being part of a bigger firm. Looking out into the future, the technology that drives the industry will create haves and have-nots, those who can afford the technology and those who cannot.

Planning software is just one example of a technology that drives your clients’ strategies, expectations, and results. At some point, you may find FinTech may be a differentiating characteristic that impacts who investors select to advise them.

Digital marketing will be an increasingly important service as more investors use the Internet to find, research, and select financial advisors as well. Bigger firms are bigger for a reason. They are often bigger because they have superior marketing strategies and execution. 

9. Will You Have Access to New Services That Were Not Available to You at Your Previous Firm?

In an ideal world, you will merge with a firm that brings your firm new types of financial advice and services. For example, you will be able to offer competitive 401k services to small business owners.
Or, your wealth management firm might take on the characteristics of a sophisticated multi-family office. ViaWealth is positioned to offer both of these advantages and more to firms that are interested in working together. Contact us today for more information.

Considerations for Selling RIA eBook
For financial professional use only.
ViaWealth LLC is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment adviser and has notice filed in the State of Kansas.
This document and any attached materials are the sole property of ViaWealth and are not to be used by you other than to evaluate ViaWealth’s service and/or products. This document and any attached materials are not to be disseminated, distributed, or otherwise conveyed throughout your organization to employees without a need for this information or to any third parties without the express written permission of ViaWealth.

More about the author: Lance Larson

Lance is the Managing Member and Founder of ViaWealth LLC.

Plan for the future you want

Get in Touch