Navigating the Evolving Landscape of RIA M&A with Harris Baltch

inorganic growth mergers and acquisitions organic growth ria strategic growth
Navigating the Evolving Landscape of RIA M&A with Harris Baltch

As the leader of Dynasty Financial Partners' Investment Banking division, Harris brings over 15 years of financial services experience to the table. His career journey is marked by significant achievements, including a successful stint at UBS Investment Bank, where he played a pivotal role as an Executive Director in the Financial Institutions Group. During his time at UBS, he was instrumental in originating, leading, and executing strategic M&A and capital market transactions exceeding $10 billion, specifically focusing on the asset and wealth management industry.

I’m excited to share Harris’ expertise with you while discussing the evolving landscape of RIA M&A, as well as discussing equity, industry skepticism, and what the future looks to have in store for the space.



There is an important mindset shift necessary for advisors moving from organic to inorganic growth strategies. This shift often happens internally, for example, when an advisor excels and seeks equity in the firm, leading CEOs to seek valuation guidance. Other times, it’s about friendly deals between neighboring RIAs or advisors seeking to join a former colleague’s firm.

Organic growth, characterized by internally driven expansion such as acquiring new clients or increasing assets under management, is a familiar terrain for most advisors. The shift to inorganic growth, however, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A), requires a different strategic approach and mindset. Inorganic growth often involves complex negotiations, valuations, and integration processes that aren't typically encountered in organic expansion.



Harris also touched on the critical role of equity in M&A transactions. In a high-interest rate market, cash is king, but equity can be an even more valuable currency. This is especially true when smaller firms merge with larger ones, allowing for a 'second transaction' opportunity as the larger entity grows and scales.

The successful realization of value from equity stakes in M&A transactions relies not only on the timing and execution of the initial deal but determining whether these equity stakes can be monetized profitably also relies on:

  • The ongoing performance and strategic direction of the merged entity
  • The overall health of the industry
  • The current market conditions
  • The strategic decisions made post-merger



While optimistic about the future, Harris also acknowledged the skepticism surrounding the industry, citing examples like Focus Financial and United Capital. The success or failure of equity models in the RIA space will largely depend on how these transactions are structured and the strategic decisions of the firms involved. He suggests that a careful approach, focusing on long-term value rather than short-term gains, will be crucial for the success of these equity plays.

Harris’s insights into the RIA market highlight the importance of strategic thinking and adaptability in a rapidly evolving industry. His emphasis on the psychological aspects of deal-making, the strategic use of equity, and the need for disciplined underwriting underscores the complexity of modern investment banking in the RIA space. As the industry moves forward into 2024 and beyond, the lessons shared by Harris will undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the future of RIA mergers and acquisitions.

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For my full discussion with Harris, and more on this topic and topics not featured on this blog post:
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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Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, deal-maker, and business consultant with more than 35 years of professional negotiating experience as a successful entrepreneur and attorney.


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