Ensuring Success in Mergers and Acquisitions with Chris Winn
In the RIA space, regulatory compliance is crucial for firms on an ongoing basis. In the context of deals -- such as advisor onboarding or large acquisitions -- firms must ensure that they are performing due diligence on the compliance front to prevent mistakes.
Chris Winn is the CEO and Lead Consultant of AdvisorAssist, a company that provides compliance and regulatory services for RIAs. With years of experience in CCO and risk roles in the institutional investment management sector, Chris founded AdvisorAssist in 2006. Today, the company supports over 750 RIAs and 5,000 associated persons, making it a leading provider of compliance and regulatory services in the industry.
THE DUE DILIGENCE CHECKLIST
The due diligence process is especially crucial in mergers and acquisitions within the financial industry. While due diligence is critical for both the buyer and the seller, the seller often skimps on the process. Chris recommends that the seller spend some time observing and experiencing the acquiring partner's office, systems, and processes to ensure that the acquisition is a good fit, and suggests building a checklist of aspects to focus on. A checklist guides the due diligence team and helps ensure that all relevant aspects of the target company are thoroughly examined and documented. For Chris’ checklist, he suggests:
- Public records such as ADVs, balance sheets, and income statements should be examined
- Conduct background checks on the people involved
- Analyze the book of business and client agreements
- Evaluate regulatory compliance and address any issues
- Review books and records
- Assess the support and growth models
- Understanding the division of responsibilities
- Understanding the tools, technologies, and flow of information
A well-rounded and comprehensive checklist can be beneficial by ensuring that all aspects of the target company are evaluated, avoid surprises, and identify any potential risks. Another benefit of a checklist is that it can facilitate communication and collaboration between the buyer and seller, in turn building a positive relationship and increasing the chance of a successful deal.
POTENTIAL PITFALLS IN THE INTEGRATION PROCESS
Mergers and acquisitions can be a tricky business. While it can be an effective way for firms to scale up and stay competitive, it can also be fraught with potential pitfalls if not handled properly. One potential pitfall is the integration process.
According to Chris, it's crucial to align investment philosophies, document protocols, and address cultural differences to ensure a smooth transition. This is especially important given that firms often have different approaches to investing and client service.
- Alignment of Investment Philosophies: One of the most critical steps in the integration process is aligning investment philosophies. Different firms may have varying investment strategies, risk appetites, and overall philosophies. It's essential to identify these differences and work together to develop a unified investment philosophy that both firms can adopt.
- Document Protocols: Documenting protocols is another crucial step in the integration process. Establishing clear and concise protocols for every aspect of the business, from operations to client service, helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes documenting procedures for communication, decision-making, and reporting, among others.
- Address Cultural Differences: Addressing cultural differences is also crucial for a successful integration process. Different firms may have unique cultures, which can affect the way they operate and interact with clients. It's essential to recognize these differences and work together to create a culture that aligns with the values and goals of both firms.
By taking these steps, firms can ensure a smooth transition and position themselves for long-term success.
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For my full discussion with Chris Winn, and more on this and other topics:
Listen to the Full DealQuest Podcast Episode Here
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Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator, and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author, and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
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