High valuations appear to be lighting a fire under investment advisors who may be considering selling their businesses, and that trend may continue for years, according to a recent report.

Nearly 40% of RIA principals said that valuations are affecting their decision to consider a sale, according to the “DeVoe RIA M&A Outlook Study.” That response jumped to 62% among advisors heading firms with a value of $1.5 billion or more, the report said.

Sixty percent of the 168 advisors surveyed for the report said they expect heightened merger-and-acquisition activity to continue to increase for more than five years, which is down from 67% in last year’s survey. Thirty-one percent said they expect the trend to continue for the next three to five years. Among RIAs worth $1 billion to $3 billion, 74% expect high M&A activity to continue for the next five years.

“Record valuation levels are not lost on RIAs as they contemplate potential sale timing and the possibility of expediting plans,” said David DeVoe, managing director at DeVoe & Co., a San Francisco-based consulting and investment management company serving the RIA industry. “We know that advisors don’t put economics as the top decision driver, [but] it’s still a factor.”

While advisors stand to benefit if they put their practices up for sale under current market conditions, rushing to the negotiating table could be a double-edged sword because advisors have been notoriously lax in securing the future of their businesses with a succession plan. In fact, 50% of advisors said this issue could be a “big future problem” for the industry, the report said.

“If advisors wait too long, an external sale often becomes the only answer, like it or not,” DeVoe said in a statement.