Recurring revenue is one of the most important single determinants of value. Revenue produced through management fees, trails, or renewals is ongoing and reasonably predictable. Transactional revenue is more elusive and difficult to predict. While this isn’t cutting edge news, it is important to understand that recurring revenue is more predictable and presents less risk of future earnings when compared to transactional revenue. As such, when a portion of revenue is generated from transactional revenue, buyers will require a higher rate of return (discount) when compared to other market alternatives that provide more certainty.
Rule of Thumb?
It is important to understand the difference between an adjusted pricing multiple based on the specific characteristics of the business being valued versus a “rule of thumb.” A rule of thumb for the financial services industry is that businesses sell for two-times gross recurring revenue and one-times non-recurring revenue, or that they are worth five-times Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA). Often sellers approach us asking if the offer they have received based on a rule of thumb is sufficient or fair. This question cannot reasonably be answered without understanding the revenue characteristics of the practice.