If the responses to my November Investment Advisor column (on Mark Hurley’s recent report about advisory practice values, View Askew) are representative, at least the most vocal financial advisors agree with me that small advisory practices do indeed have value. As one advisor wrote: “If a fee-only advisor, with a client base and value system similar to ours, approached us to buy his or her firm, for two times revenue paid out over five years, I would buy the firm. I think it’s a no-brainer, even if they had only $50 or $100 million in AUM.”
The irony is that when Mark Hurley launched his Fiduciary Network, which acquires minority interests in advisory practices providing them with capital to grow and for the junior partners to buy you, the senior partners, he told me that he believed the market was undervaluing advisory practices. That seemed dead-on to me, but it turns out he was only talking about the largest firms (with $750 million or more in AUM).
I suppose we can’t really blame him: Mark comes from an institutional background (Goldman Sachs), and brings the same perspective as most of the banks and other institutional buyers of independent advisory firms: That in order to have value, a firm