Welcome, everyone! Welcome to the 72nd episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is David DeVoe. Dave is the founder of DeVoe and Company, a practice management consulting firm for RIAs with a focus on business valuations, succession planning, and facilitating mergers and acquisitions of advisory firms.
What’s unique about Dave, though, is the deep history that he has in consulting on and tracking trends in advisory firm mergers and acquisitions, and the valuation of advisory firms, both previously at Charles Schwab where he led Schwab Advisor Services’ Mergers and Acquisitions program, and now as an independent consultant who runs one of the industry’s leading “Deal Book” tracking studies on financial advisor M&A activity.
In this episode, we talk in depth about current trends in the valuation of advisory firms, the flaws in the traditional “2X revenue” valuation estimate for a firm (and why it can actually vary as low as just 1 times revenue or as high as nearly 3X), why focusing on profits and a multiple of free cash flow leads to better valuations than looking at revenue alone, the Growth, Profitability, and Risk factors that impact the valuation multiple for an advisory firm, and how in the end an advisory firm is still, like any business, priced based on the present value of future cash flows, and thus why Dave’s firm takes a discounted cash flow model approach to providing accurate advisory firm valuations.
We also talk about the mechanics of advisory firm deals from the buyer’s perspective, why deals were historically transacted primarily with seller financing, how the rise of third-party bank financing is changing the actual terms and even the valuation of a firm, and why arguably the most important factor in determining the affordability of a purchase is not actually the price of the firm, or the interest rate charged on the note, but the number of years over which the payments are financed that determines whether the buyer has some skin in the game, or if the profits of the firm can actually fully finance the purchase with no ongoing out of pocket cash.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Dave shares his perspective on the buyer and seller trends in the industry, why he sees it as both a “buyer’s market” and a “seller’s market” right now, and why he thinks the greatest risk to valuations is the danger that too many firms try to sell at once… not because there isn’t enough capital to fund all the purchases, but simply because there are still too few buyers for them all to be able to collectively handle the operational challenges of implementing so many mergers and acquisitions at once!
So whether you are interested in learning how to best value your own firm, what you should consider when deciding to purchase into or acquire another firm, or are simply interested in the general market dynamics in a continually evolving market for mergers and acquisitions of advisory firms, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!