Price Guide – March 2019

Revenue Type Recurring Revenue Multiple
Investment and super clients (aged 80+ years) Fee for service 1.0x to 1.2x
Investment and super clients (aged 65 -79 years) Fee for service 1.8x to 2.5x
Investment and super clients (aged up to 64 years) Fee for service 2.5x to 2.8x
Risk clients (aged under 55 years) 2.5x to 3.0x
Risk clients (aged 55 – 60 years) 2.0x to 2.5x
Risk clients (aged 61+ years) 1.0x to 1.5x
Corporate super plans – commission switched off* Negotiable 
Corporate super plans – commission converted to a flat fee for each employee 1.5x to 2.0x
Grandfathered investment trail commissions 1.0x to 1.5x
Mortgage clients – home loan trails 1.7x to 2.0x
Accounting fees – business clients 0.75 x to 1.2x
Accounting fees – individual returns 0.5x to 0.9x

Grandfathered trail commission clients (Down another 33%)

Grandfathered trail commission clients (Down another 33%)

Radar Results (Radar) had seen recent sale transactions of grandfathered trail commission clients trade between 1.5x and 2.0x the annual trail amount, but now that the Royal Commission has recommended trails cease on 1 Jan 2021, Radar Results believe the multiple has now fallen further.

These books are most likely to trade between 1.0 times and 1.5 times trails, giving buyers approximately 22 months of income. Previously these had been selling for as high as 3 times trail, but more commonly at a high of 2.7 times trail during the period 2013-2017. In 2013 these trail commissions books were sought after because no FDS (Fee Disclosure Statement) was required and the Opt-in requirement for new clients from 1 July 2013, didn’t apply. Radar Results expect a lot of grandfathered books to now come onto the market for sale.

The Royal Commission may not have explained the reasoning behind the recommended cessation of the trail commission, except to say it’s conflicted. They also feel that the financial planners have been receiving revenue without providing a service. Whilst in many situations this is correct, it’s not the situation across the industry. The Royal Commission would like the financial planners who own grandfathered clients, to make contact where possible, and try and convert them into fee-paying clients. If the grandfathered client is receiving a service already, then the trail commission needs to be changed to a fee, paid by the client and not by the product provider.

The principal of Radar Results, John Birt said, “I feel sorry for those planners who had borrowed money over the past 5 years to specifically buy grandfathered trail commission clients, thinking they would have an income for life.”

Radar Results was told that banks are not placing any value on these grandfathered clients now; basically, they do not see them as an asset. Radar Results does not hold this view, as with some effort, clients can be moved to fee paying.

Risk Insurance Registers Up and Down

Risk insurance registers up and down

Radar Results has seen prices paid for risk insurance books move in both directions. Risk books can include life insurance, income protection and trauma insurance (sometime referred to as critical illness cover).

It appears that financial planners who own life books at the smaller end of the market, $100K to $200K of recurring revenue (RR), are looking to sell them now rather than wait for the findings and report from the Royal Commission. This is because the findings of the Royal Commission when released in Feb 2019, may shake up the market. Certainly, the higher education requirements are also scaring planners into making an early exit, not to mention the lower up-front commission system and the new two-year claw-back period for commissions. Radar Results has seen prices paid for smaller risk books move been 2 times and 3 times the annual recurring revenue (RR).

At the other end of the market, large risk insurance businesses of say $1M to $3M in annual RR can command far higher multiples. Last year banks’ lending to this larger sector of the market, funded clients to buy these high-end risk books at an average of more than 3.5x the RR.

Some banks have said that they can’t lend enough money to financial planners for acquisitions, but unfortunately, they have also increased the minimum loan that they will approve to $1M.

New Associate for Sydney & ACT – Susannah Hart

Radar Results has helped many financial planning practices to sell their businesses over the past 12 years. Susannah Hart has been invited to join our team to further service the Sydney and ACT market.

Susannah had been in the financial services’ industry for over 25 years with her second career starting in an Accountant’s office, then transitioning the Accountants into Financial Planning.  A RetireInvest Franchise owner and Authorised Representative, she later moved into the corporate arena as a BDM, then as State Manager with Centrepoint Alliance (previously PIS), Business Growth Manager for the MLC Dealer Groups (Garvan, Godfrey Pembroke, Apogee, Meriton, NAB FP) and more recently, Count Financial Group’s National Development Manager.

Radar Results owner and Principal, John Birt, believes that Susannah’s experience and connections will assist buyers and sellers along their respective journeys.

John Birt, Principal of Radar Results, believes that the next two years will be very active, with many financial planners considering the sale of their business in the short term. According to Birt, “Advisers are definitely looking to sell before the new educational requirements force them out of the industry, and the abolishment of grandfathered commissions is likely to speed this up.”

Radar’s Price Guide

 

An indication of prices as at August 2018

Revenue Type Recurring Revenue multiple
Investment and super clients (age 80 yrs+)  1.0x to 1.2x

(Down from 1.8x)

Investment and super clients (age 65-79 yrs) 1.8x to 2.5x
Investment and super clients (age up to 64 yrs) 2.5x to 3.0x
Risk clients (under 55 years) 2.5x to 3.0x

(Down from 3.5x)

Risk clients (over 55 years) 2.2x to 2.6x

(Down from 2.8x)

Super clients – commission switched off Neg*
Corporate super clients – flat fee per employee 1.5x to 2.0x
Cs and Ds – mix of both risk and investment 1.5x to 2.0x

(Down from 2.7x)

Mortgage clients – home loan trails 2.0x to 2.5x
Accounting fee – business clients 0.75x to 1.2x
Accounting fee – individual returns 0.5x to 0.9x

* No transactions

The above multiples can vary depending on the terms offered by the vendor, geographic location of the client, age of the client and the investment products within the client’s portfolio. Multiples paid for risk books or insurance revenue-based practices will vary depending on the client’s occupation, size of premium, type of policy (stepped or level) and geographic location of the client. The multiples displayed above are for high-quality risk clients. The table above is based on market activity over the past twelve months to August 2018.

Life insurance price multiples lower (Down 8%)

Radar Results has seen prices paid for risk insurance client registers reduce for two reasons. Firstly, the Life Insurance Remuneration Act effective from 1 January 2018 has reduced the amount of upfront commission paid on new life insurance policies, income protection policies and trauma policies down to 80% for this year and then down to 60% for 2019. Previously, insurance companies were paying up to 120% of the first year’s premium as a commission. Secondly, the responsibility period for the commission payment has been pushed out to two years after previously being just one year. The impact of The Royal Commission into the financial services sector and the higher education standards looming has influenced more businesses to come to market. With many more sellers now in the market, there’s a larger choice, and a decline in prices now offered. There is more risk insurance businesses on the market now than at any other time that I can recall.                                                                       

Investment & superannuation clients 80yrs+ (Down 30%)

The Royal Commission has again spooked the market with investment clients (pension) and superannuation clients 80 years old and above selling for far lower prices than earlier in the year. Some product providers of legacy products have been switching off the trail commission that had been paid to licensees and advisers for these clients. Recently the sale price of risk insurance register was reduced by over 13%, or nearly $100,000 as a result of legacy product commission being turned off. As explained by the product providers, this was done in the best interest of the clients. 

Grandfathered trail commission – C & D clients (Down 25%)

Radar Results has seen recent sale transactions trade between 1.5 times and 2 times the net trail commission. Previously, these had been selling for as high as 3 times, but more commonly at a high of 2.7 times. Once again, the Royal Commission has prompted some industry bodies to recommend that they be phased out or even cease immediately. These trail commission registers in 2013/14 were sought after because no Fee Disclosure Statement (FDS) was required and the opt-in requirement for new clients from 1 July 2013, didn’t apply. Even some major banks that used to lend on this asset class have done a back-flip and now don’t lend against these trail books.

 

Radar Results Price Guide

An indication of prices as at 1 March 2018

Revenue Type Recurring Revenue multiple
Investment and super clients (age 80 yrs+) 1.0x to 1.8x
Investment and super clients (age 65-79 yrs) 1.8x to 2.5x
Investment and super clients (age up to 64 yrs) 2.5x to 3.0x
Risk clients (under 55 years) 3.0x to 3.5x
Risk clients (over 55 years) 2.5x to 2.8x
Super clients – commission switched off Neg*
Corporate super clients – flat fee per employee 1.5x to 2.0x
Cs and Ds – mix of both risk and investment 2.0x to 2.7x
Mortgage clients – home loan trails 2.0x to 2.5x
Accounting fee – business clients 0.75x to 1.2x
Accounting fee – individual returns 0.5x to 0.9x

(Changes since March 2017 in red)

* No transactions

The above multiples can vary depending on the terms offered by the vendor, geographic location of the client, age of the client and the investment products within the client’s portfolio. Multiples paid for risk books or insurance revenue-based practices will vary depending on the client’s occupation, size of premium, type of policy (stepped or level) and geographic location of the client. The multiples displayed above are for high-quality risk clients. The table above is based on market activity over the past twelve months to 1 March 2018.

6 MONTHLY PRICE GUIDE

RADAR’S SIX MONTHLY PRICE GUIDE  

  An indication of prices as at 31 March 2017

(Changes since 31 October 2016 in red)

 

Revenue Type Recurring Revenue multiple
Investment and super clients (age 80 yrs+)  1.0x to 1.8x
Investment and super clients (age 65-79 yrs) 1.8x to 2.5x
Investment and super clients (age up to 64 yrs) 2.5x to 3.0x
Risk clients (under 55 years) 3.0x to 3.5x
Risk clients (over 55 years) 2.5x to 2.8x
Super clients – commission switched off Neg*
Corporate super clients – flat fee per employee      1.5x to 2.0x
Cs and Ds – mix of both risk and investment 2.0x to 2.5x
Mortgage clients 2.0x to 2.5x
Accounting fee – business clients 0.75x to 1.2x
Accounting fee – individual returns 0.5x to 0.9x

 

* No transactions

The above multiples can vary depending on the terms offered by the vendor, geographic location of the client, age of the client and the investment products within the client’s portfolio. Multiples paid for risk books or insurance revenue-based practices will vary depending on the client’s occupation, size of premium, type of policy (stepped or level) and geographic location of the client. The multiples displayed above are for high-quality risk clients. The table above is based on market activity over the past six months to 31 March 2017

 

THE MAIN CHANGES

 

OLDER FP INVESTMENT CLIENTS:

The main changes to the Radar Results Price Guide has been to the category titled, ‘Investment client’s 80-plus years of age’. We have seen client registers change hands at prices of up to 1.8 times the recurring revenue (RR), previously 1.5 times. Basically, demand for these clients has increased due to a shortage of registers for sale. Even now, the older client bases in the marketplace are looking attractive. Clients aged in their late 70’s have also seen higher demand, attracting prices between 1.8 to 2.5 times the RR.  Multiples of RR of up to 2.5 times are being paid for registers, where the average age of the client is close to 65 years.  

CORPORATE SUPER PLANS (FLAT FEE):

A sector where price multiples have fallen is the flat fee corporate superannuation area. In place of the former product provider commission payment system, some licensees are now paying advisers a flat fee per employee. This sector has seen minimal sales at lower multiples. As a result, the market multiple rate of 2.5 times RR has been moved down to a maximum of 2.0 times.

CORPORATE SUPER PLANS (NO COMMISSIONS):

There is now debate as to how much corporate super client registers are worth after the commissions have been turned off and there’s no arrangement in place with their licensee for a flat fee payment. Contrary to the MySuper principles contained in the FOFA legislation, there are instances in which commission payments will continue, where most of the employees have made an investment selection rather than just accepting the MySuper default option.

THE VALUE OF ACCRUED DEFAULT AMOUNT (ADA) CLIENTS:

Radar Results has been asked to place a value on ADA clients, where they have moved away from an employer’s sponsored super plan and left the balance under that employer’s plan. Some call these clients inactive, dormant or de-linked members of employer sponsored super plans. Their information may or may not be up-to-date, and can usually be accessed by the existing adviser by going to the product manager’s portal.

There are thoughts that ADA clients may be a liability if retained by the existing adviser, while others feel they are an asset and can be contacted and converted into quality FP clients.

ACCOUNTING FEES:

Prices being paid for lower end business accounting fees like BAS return work has fallen from 90 cents to 75 cents. At the higher end, management accounting fees, audit, trust and Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) administration fees have either stabilised or in some cases increased. Demand is such that price multiples could escalate to $1.50 in the $1.00 for quality accounting businesses primarily in the CBD and metropolitan regions. Radar Results has seen $1.80 in the $1.00 paid for SMSF compliance fees.

MORTGAGE BOOKS:

Demand for mortgage books will see the current price move further up in the next six to twelve months. Currently, the 2.0 to 2.5 times trail appears to be the market price, however, in instances in which there has been 100 per cent payment upfront, 2.7 to 2.8 times trail with no claw-back has occurred. I would not be surprised to see 3.0 times the trail become a common price paid by 2018/19.

RISK CLIENTS:

There is still a huge demand for risk clients, a demand which has not been dampened by the proposed new Life Insurance Legislation. Most demand has been for book sizes of $150,000 to $500,000 in annual renewal commissions. The age of the clients is important, and the younger the clients, the higher the price multiple. Whether the premiums have been written as stepped or level doesn’t appear to make a price difference.

Highest Prices Ever

RECESSION 2017-18

According to then Prime Minister Paul Keating, the last recession we had was ‘the one that we had to have’. During this recession, interest rates rose to 18%, loan delinquency rates hit 12% and unemployment levels hit nearly 11%.

Expectations are that we are in for another bumpy ride next year. While I’m not sure if the recession of the 90’s will be repeated, property prices are tipped to suffer.

With respect to investing, overseas fund managers have Australia on a ‘no-go list’, meaning home and apartment prices are the highest in the world when compared to our incomes. Bar New

South Wales, every state has an over-supply of dwellings, with an additional 200,000 dwellings to be completed over the coming year, and 217,000 the year after. This oversupply and failed settlements could lead to apartment prices falling by 20%. Developers need to sell the unsold stock to meet their debt obligations.

Many financial planning practices have been advising their clients to buy property, particularly within their Self-Managed Super Fund. What effect would property prices moving down 20% have on the client’s overall financial situation, and would the client have a case against the planner’s AFSL or licensee? How will a recession impact financial planners, the financial industry and more importantly their clients? Being heavily geared into just one asset class, rising interest rates, higher unemployment and lower property prices are a deadly mix. 

HIGHEST PRICES EVER

Today, prices being offered for these businesses or client registers are the highest they have been in eight years. This is primarily due to the low interest borrowing rates and finance being plentiful. AMP has just changed their Buyer of Last Resort (BOLR) formula, now placing non-AMP products in the same category for valuation as AMP products. I believe this applies to the Charter and Hillross practices as well.

AMP Bank is offering their financial planners loans to expand, some at interest rates of 7% fixed, principal and interest over 10 years, and preferably they’re being encouraged to buy non-AMP practices or client registers, and move them into the AMP practice. Once again, this includes Hillross and Charter. This high demand by AMP linked advisers is forcing up the prices paid for financial planning activities.

BABYSITTING

Another factor that has forced up prices being paid for financial planning practices is the internal need by licensees to retain their own advisers, otherwise known as ‘baby-sitting’. Some medium-to-large licensees have offered to buy the practice themselves, as a temporary hold until they can find another adviser to join their group, and then on-sell it. The existing clients and associated revenue is retained.

LOAN BOOK TRAIL PRICES RISE FURTHER

In the past three years, loan book prices have nearly doubled, with some now selling for between two and three times the trail. Some mortgage brokers have sold their trail books for over three times the trail, however, in these situations there’s a correlation between the aggregator and the loan broker, with the most sought after loan books being aligned to aggregators in PLAN, FAST, Connective, AFG and Choice. Cross-selling opportunities is the main reason for this price rise, along with low supply. So far this year, clients of Radar Results have purchased fewer than 10 trail books, but if I had 100 trail books, our clients would’ve purchased them all. Financial planners really want to buy loan books as well, and tend to outbid the mortgage brokers.[layerslider id=”1″]

ACCOUNTING PRACTICES UNDER PRESSURE

Accounting practices haven’t seen the same demand for their practices as financial planners and loan brokers have seen for their businesses. Many accounting practitioners, whether a sole practitioner or partnership, seem to have higher levels of business costs, such as salaries, and cannot pass the full effect onto their clients. These days, taxation clients are more demanding, more selective with the services they require and more critical of the value for money concept.

Accountants need to do more than just lodge tax returns. Many are under- charging, which I feel is a confidence issue. Accountants that provide advice, administration and compliance work to their SMSF clients are either over-charging by an exorbitant amount or in many situations not charging enough. The gap is enormous, with $895 per annum to do the full year’s work for a SMSF, and $8,000 per annum to do basically the same work.

Prices paid for individual tax return clients, commonly called ‘I returns’, have fallen. The main steadier for accounting practice prices is the demand by financial planners looking to reach a large number of prospects to sell loan/s, planning services, SMSF set-up and advice, along with risk insurance products.

Radar’s Six Monthly Price Guide

An indication of prices as at 31 March 2016 

 

Revenue Type Recurring Revenue multiple
Investment and super clients (age 80 yrs+)  1.0x to 1.5x
Investment and super clients (age 65-79 yrs) 2.0x to 2.5x
Investment and super clients (age up to 64 yrs) 2.5x to 3.0x
Risk clients (under 55 years) 3.3x to 3.5x
Risk clients (over 55 years) 2.5x to 2.8x
Corporate super clients 0.0x to 0.5x
Cs and Ds – mix of both risk and investment 2.0x to 2.5x
Mortgage clients 2.0x to 2.5x
Accounting fee – business clients 0.9x to 1.2x
Accounting fee – individual returns 0.5x to 0.9x

 The above multiples can vary depending on the terms offered by the vendor, geographic location of the client, age of the client and the investment products within the client’s portfolio. Multiples paid for risk books or insurance revenue-based practices will vary depending on the client’s occupation, size of premium, type of policy (stepped or level) and geographic location of the client. The multiples displayed above are for high-quality risk clients. The table above is based on market activity over the past six months to 31 March 2016

THE MAIN CHANGES

The main change Radar Results has seen in the buying and selling market for financial planning practices has been the increase in demand for older investment and insurance-based clients, for example, where buyers had heavily discounted the multiple of recurring revenue for investment clients over the age of 75, there has been a trend to buy now at these attractive rates. Further, as the life expectancy of an 80-year-old female is now 10 years and eight years for a male, there is real value in these ‘older’ clients. Therefore, Radar Results’ Six-Monthly Price Guide has moved the age category from 75 years to 80 years and above.

Similarly, with risk insurance clients, the age bracket has been moved to over and under 55 years of age, replacing the previous 50-year-old age bracket. Once again, buyers are no longer concerned if risk clients purchased are over the age of 50, or 55 for that matter, as the likelihood of the policies remaining in force to the age of 65 is now higher due to people retiring at a later stage in life and having children later. The higher mortgage levels on the principal residence also need protection for longer.

EBIT MULTIPLES

The multiple paid for larger financial planning businesses has a price range of four to six times the normalised EBIT, up from 5.5x as the maximum rate. Radar Results has seen larger, better quality practices come to market, commanding EBIT multiples not seen since prior to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

The price range for mortgage management businesses is 3.5 to 4.0 times the normalised EBIT, and 3.5 to 4.5 times the normalised EBIT for large accounting practices.

 

LINGERING EFFECT OF FUTURE of FINANCIAL ADVICE (FOFA) REFORMS ON PRICE 

When selling your business, many more questions are now being asked by potential buyers, such as:

–      Do all your clients need a Fee Disclosure Statement (FDS) issued or just the fee-for-service clients?

–      Pre-July 2013, which of your clients are grandfathered under FoFA?

–      How many clients need an opt-in letter sent every two years?  

–      Since July 2013, how many clients are new?

–      How many are grandfathered clients, and have since had their investment and strategy substantially change, turning them now into opt-in clients?

–      Is the volume bonus going to move to my licensee?

–      Will the over-ride bonus previously paid by product providers to the vendor continue after the sale?

The additional red tape caused by FoFA reform has led to fee-for-service multiples for client registers, and planning books to either plateau or fall. Certainly, risk insurance books and businesses haven’t been affected by FoFA reform, and still command the highest multiples of recurring revenue within the financial service sector.

Accounting practices remain in high demand, particularly in the city and regional areas. Mortgage book prices are at an all-time high, and buyers are keen to pay cash for even the smallest books, for example, $2,000 per month trails. Unfortunately, the corporate superannuation section still suffers, with many planners not even prepared to make an offer. With commissions being turned off early next year, planners are now in search of institutions to replace these commissions with a flat fee per employee.  

High Netwealth Clients In Big Demand

Radar Results has received a number of requests from financial planners looking to buy High Net Wealth (HNW) clients. To clarify, a HNW financial planning client can be described as one with investments under management of at least $1 million. Some advisers would say that an investment portfolio of this size is not particularly high nowadays. But, if both the husband and wife each own at least $1 million, then the family has $2 million in funds under management (FUM).
Depending on age, prices paid recently for these types of HNW clients can range from three to four times the annual fees. To receive a price multiple in this range, the preferred ages would be between 40 and 60 years. The Sydney CBD and north-west regions of Sydney seem to show the highest demand for this client style.

NON-OPT-IN WORTH MORE

When you buy a financial planning register or business which has clients that were established as a new client before 1 July 2013, they will not require an opt-in letter and are preserved as being non-opt-in clients. The pre-July 2013 clients will not require any opt-in letters to be sent, even if the adviser and licensee are completely new as a result of the sale. Demand for these non-opt-in clients has actually increased, and prices reflect this higher demand.
Interestingly, if a client moves from one adviser to another without being part of a sale transaction, then the grandfathering of the opt-in disappears. A letter must then be sent out every two years requesting confirmation from the client that they wish to continue with that adviser, and consequently receive the same services for the disclosed fees. If the letter is not returned, fees and commissions must be turned off. A reduced level of service offered to the client or an increase in fees, will also result in the preservation of non-opt-in being removed.