Is Mediation For Your Deal a Good Investment?

Posted by Christine Sjölin on Aug 5, 2019 12:51:09 PM


Acquisition strategies are varied and diverse; how an advisor or a firm pursues acquisitions will depend on their business model and philosophy. While the approach to acquisition should be personalized, it is a mistake to do it alone. In addition to the successful transactions presented in this report, FP Transitions works with many advisors who have endured failed sales or stalled deals.

The story of a failed transaction often begins with one or both parties hesitating to hire a mediator, the perception being that their deal is “simple,” and that buyer and seller can save money if they do it themselves. The information we gather from these clients about their failed sales gives our consultants broader perspective on what works and what doesn’t in an evolving marketplace. When we combine this information with the data gathered from successful deals, it is clear that investing in a mediator improves results for both buyers and sellers in terms of success rate, speed, and value.

One misconception advisors often share with us is the belief that one-on-one negotiations are easier and brokers will just get in the way of a personal connection between buyer and seller. This perception is understandable, as it is essential that buyer and seller have a mutual affinity and have aligned interests in order to transfer and retain client relationships after the deal is done. However, mutual affinity is not sufficient to get buyer and seller over basic negotiating factors, such as valuation, deal structuring, and tax allocation of the purchase price. These are complex topics where a mediator can provide expertise and perspective to both sides and advance the deal forward.

Financial services is such a regulated industry, with the added complexity of requiring a long transition, that it is common for a sale to get bogged down in “paperwork.” So, while each party does need representation, there also needs to be a knowledgeable and neutral mediator who can be responsible for keeping everyone on track, offer solutions, and has data to show why one side’s objection is or is not valid.

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Topics: Selling Your Practice, Acquisition, Buying & Selling, Trends in Transactions Study, Transactions

Components of a Deal

Posted by FP Transitions on Jun 12, 2019 6:00:00 PM


Whether you are buying or selling, it is important to understand what is being bought and sold and what expectations both the buyer and seller have of each other. Absent these details, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if an offer is fair. After all, “fair” is a relative term. The question of fairness would be easy to answer if all deals were done the same way, but the reality is they are not. Nonetheless, there are still common attributes to most deals that can shed light and aid in understanding the underlying terms. This in turn helps both buyer and seller assess the reasonability of an offer. 


The sale of many, if not most, financial service businesses are completed as asset sales as opposed to stock sales, where all ownership rights are transferred to a third party. In an asset-based sale, both buyer and seller receive more favorable tax treatment when compared to a stock sale. Since financial services businesses are primarily relationship-based, providing mostly intangible services, what is being sold in an asset sale is rights to a future benefit stream—namely, revenues. However, given the intangible nature of the assets, there is no certainty that a buyer will receive the same amount of revenue from the clients as the seller did. This is why the ability to leverage the seller’s goodwill (the primary asset being bought and sold) to establish proper deal terms that create a shared risk, shared reward scenario become important. 

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Topics: Business Value, Deal Structure, Buying & Selling, Trends in Transactions Study, Transactions

Technology and Value

Posted by FP Transitions on May 14, 2019 11:23:18 AM

Tech and Value

Advisors constantly seek an answer to the questions “How can I grow faster?” and “How can I increase the value of my practice?” Generally, their focus is on acquisition. However, growth and value are not singular concepts. In other words, achieving a rapid pace of growth needs to be tackled through multiple facets, and ultimately, growth will be a driver of value. However, many practices are not adequately equipped to grow at the rates they are striving for. Technology provides many of these opportunities. Investing in technology has a demonstrated relationship to higher growth, more affluent clients, increased profits, and increased value. 

The rapid pace of technological advancement has provided financial advisors more opportunities to reach a broader client base and manage client relationships more effectively and efficiently. By implementing and effectively utilizing web-based advertising, digital conference rooms, client relationship management (CRM) systems, and billing and portfolio management software, advisory practices of all sizes are able to more closely track their performance and focus their efforts on the market segments they wish to target.

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Topics: Business Growth, Business Value, Trends in Transactions Study

Impact of Consolidation

Posted by David Grau Sr., JD on May 8, 2019 1:09:44 PM



There has been a fair amount of talk over the past decades about consolidation in the financial services industry. Most of the white papers and articles addressing this concept have presented it in a negative light as though it signals the end of the lifestyle practices that dot the landscape in this profession. Industry regulation, growth, technology, fee compression, competition, and aging advisors forced smaller practices to consolidate just to survive. At least that was the working theory.

As the original organizers of the open marketplace for independent advisors seeking to sell or to acquire, we have a slightly different perspective on consolidation; we view it in a very positive light. Consolidation looks very different than what the prognosticators laid out decades ago. From our vantage point of working with businesses below $2 billion in AUM, we’ve observed the industry is indeed experiencing some consolidation, but not only due to acquisitions or roll-ups by companies like Focus Financial, United Capital, or Dynasty. The consolidation that we see every day is owners of stronger, sustainable enterprises acquiring smaller, one-generational books and practices.

Viewed in this light, how better to look after 250 clients or households when a single-owner advisory practice nears retirement than to find a very similarly structured business that can step in, take over, and provide for the staff members as well? This process works for the buyers, the sellers, and, most importantly, the clients.

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Topics: Multi-Generational Ownership, Organizational Structure, Business Growth, M&A, Sustainability, Trends in Transactions Study