2016 is setting itself up to be a banner year for RIA mergers and acquisitions, according to Schwab Advisor Services.
There were 52 deals done in this year’s first half versus 37 in the first half of 2015. Maybe of more significance, the first-half total this year is only two short of the total number of deals in both 2013 and 2014.
“This year has gotten a strong start building off the momentum of a record year in 2015, which shows the health of the independent channel,” says Jonathan Beatty, senior vice president of sales and relationship management at Schwab Advisor Services.
“You are seeing a growing ecosystem of the types and the numbers of buyers in the category, and the more options you have the more likely they will meet the sellers’ criteria,” he adds.
Previously, last year’s third-quarter had set a record for the number of deals in a quarter at 21. But this year’s first quarter topped that with 31. Schwab’s data is based on the mergers and acquisitions of firms with at least $50 million in assets under management.
The total value of the deals also is on track to break old records. Total deal value for the first half of this year was $75 billion, jumping 50% from last year’s first half total of $50 billion.
Transaction value in the first six months of 2016 also surpassed full-year values for almost every year of the past decade, Schwab reports.
Despite the continued growth in the number of deals, there is no danger of an industry-wide consolidation, Beatty says. “There were 84 transactions last year and there may be 100 or so this year, but mergers and acquisitions still involve only a small percentage of the 10,000 or so firms out there. There are a growing number of firms, which means investors have a choice of whether they want a local firm, a regional firm or a national brand.”
The average deal size also broke a record at $1.4 billion, topping the first-half 2015 average of $1.3 billion and exceeding the average deal size for each full year since the Great Recession.
A record number of the buyers were private equity companies (26% versus 11% in last year’s first half). The first-half number also topped the private equity deals of any full year of the past decade, Schwab notes. The largest number of the deals involved RIAs (35%) or strategic acquiring firms (31%) as the buyers.