In Q3 2022 five of the top wealth advisory firms, Ameriprise (AMP), Blucora (BCOR), CI Financial (CIX), Focus Financial (FOCS), and LPL Financial Holdings (LPLA), delivered strong earnings, despite each acknowledging the difficult macroeconomic environment.
Although Earnings Per Share (EPS) came in mixed, growth remains strong across the board with four of the five firms meeting or surpassing consensus estimates for revenue. CI Financial reported the biggest surprise, coming in 10% under consensus revenue while Ameriprise had the strongest report of 6% above estimates. EPS estimates were varied with two firms (AMP and FOCS) reporting under consensus estimates, two (BCOR and CIX) coming in right on consensus and one firm (LPLA) releasing EPS 6.7% above consensus estimates.
In preparing for economic instability amid rising interest rates, firms continue to focus on organic growth while diversifying revenue streams and optimizing cost structures to provide stability through a potential prolonged economic downturn. An increased focus on organic growth, is paramount, as this historic bull market comes to an end. Diversifying revenue streams is also a common business strategy as firms search for creative ways to manage through extended market volatility. This includes rolling out estate planning, trust and other offerings that are not correlated to the market. Another common plan lies in business management by optimizing cost structures to decrease expenses against existing budget constraints.
As firms brace for potential deteriorating economic conditions and possible instability in the markets in 2023, each has a unique approach which it believes will lead them through the volatility and on to continued growth of their businesses.
AMP has several strategies to assist clients and strengthen business over the upcoming quarter and year. AMP will begin repositioning its investment portfolio to take advantage of the rising interest rates to increase yield without increasing risk. As part of AMP’s investment agenda, a focus will be placed on expanding cash offering and growing its banking segment. To help clients, AMP will be placing extra focus on retirement protection plans.
Strong client inflows and the addition of new advisers have helped grow the business over the quarter and a continued investment in additional tools, capabilities and other enhancements could help AMP continue to grow.
BCOR will be freeing up capital and unlocking value for shareholders by selling its software business, TaxAct, to an affiliate of Civen which will help pay down debt and return capital to shareholders. In addition to this, Blucora will be rebranding to Avantax to focus solely on executing long-term sustainable growth strategies for its tax-focused wealth business.
As BCOR undergoes this rebrand it will focus on streamlining corporate culture by aligning the company’s operations and enabling strategic investments in high return initiatives to support its staff and clients. This includes focusing on sustainable long-term growth by bundling various products and enhancing their value proposition by providing free access to experts, to assist in gaining new customers, retaining existing ones and enabling higher market share gains.
CIX completed its push towards integration of various middle and back-office functions to reduce expenses, streamline processes, and offer advisors and clients best in class services and capabilities. The firm is better poised to complete acquisitions and to effectuate share buybacks to take advantage of the current price disparity in the market. These investments will be strengthened by CIX’s utilization of technology-enabled solutions that are expected to transform its investment management platform.
CIX’s planned IPO of its U.S. wealth business slated for 2023 is expected to raise additional capital and to unlock value that leadership believes has been depressed by its Canadian asset management business. To make the IPO and existing business successful, CIX has created three strategic priorities. These consist of modernizing assets, such as transforming its legacy system and centralizing its trading, expanding its wealth management sector, and globalizing the company.
Focus Financial Partners
In addition to growing through its 24 year-to-date (YTD) M&A deals, which it continues to fund in its pipeline, FOCS will also be optimizing its profit and loss ratios to increase business functions. FOCS plans to accomplish this by diversifying revenue streams, creating variable cost bases, and restructuring earnings preferences. Value add programs will be a large part of this.
FOCS will rely on its strong client relationships to bring the company through any upcoming economic hardships, as this is a unique advantage the firm has from being a part of its clients’ lives beyond investment management.
LPL Financial Holdings
LPLA envisions itself as a leader across the entire advisor space and continues to remain strong by recruiting assets and increasing retention by focusing on ongoing enhancements to its model and expanding their addressable market. Adding new capabilities and technology to modernize its service and operations functions is part of its plan to attain and uphold this.
LPLA’s goal is to increase participation in independent third-party channels, create a leading end-to-end platform for advisors and transform service models into one of customer care. This will drive efficiency and allow the company to scale with real time digital operating to offer comprehensive financial advice and planning.
If you think you are ready to start the conversation about exploring strategic partnerships, or would like to learn more about how MarshBerry can help you drive value for your business, please email or call Kim Kovalski, Managing Director, at 440.769.0322.
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This earnings summary has been prepared by Marsh, Berry & Co., LLC. and is not intended to provide investment recommendations on any company. It is not a research report, as such term is defined by applicable laws and regulations, and it does not contain sufficient information upon which to make an investment decision. It is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities, financial instruments or to participate in any particular trading strategy. These materials are based solely on information contained in publicly available documents and Marsh, Berry & Co., LLC has not independently attempted to investigate or to verify such information.
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