Two Key Ingredients to a Proper M&A Strategy

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Not a day goes by that the RIA press isn’t reporting on another merger or acquisition. At industry conferences, the panels discussing M&A are the most highly attended. With more and more outside capital circling, everyone wants in on the RIA M&A game.

Given this is an industry-wide trend, why do we only see press coverage of acquisitions from the same few firms, like United Capital and EP Wealth Advisors?

Familiar names dominate the headlines deal after deal. What do these firms have in common that other potential RIA buyers lack? Yes, they are large and well-capitalized with a national presence, but there must be more to it than that, right? The repeat-headliner firms are all examples of professional buyers. Professional buyers can continually pull off these large deals because of two key ingredients: they have a bulletproof advisor pitch and a proven onboarding process (which makes their advisor pitch that much more compelling!).

Most financial advisors began their careers with the desire to help individuals better navigate their financial lives. However, most didn’t dream of becoming business owners, nor do they want to be bogged down by the daily grind of running a business. An RIA looking to become a professional buyer needs to capitalize on this dichotomy. Take United Capital’s April acquisitions of Irongate International and Peachtree Investment Advisors. United Capital’s CEO, Joe Duran, was able to take advantage of this very fact, stating, “The best and greatest use of their time is to help their clients come to grips with the highly complex, big picture issues that touch every aspect of their financial lives1.”

An RIA looking to become a professional buyer must perfect its advisor pitch, in which they are able to articulate exactly why potential selling advisors, their employees, and their clients would be best suited to join their firm. A selling advisor is entering some intimidating waters when finally handing over the reins to their business, which they’ve spent most of their life building. They want to feel that the transaction is more than just an asset grab for the acquirer and that their clients and employees will be well taken care of.