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Has Goldman Sachs Overpaid in $750 Million United Capital Deal?

By Mrinalini KrishnaAlex Padalka May 17, 2019

As expected, Goldman Sachs has acquired the wealth management firm United Capital Financial Partners, according to a press release from the investment bank. But some experts have questioned the price, based on dollars to revenue.

Goldman paid $750 million in an all-cash deal, making it Goldman’s largest in several years, according to the Financial Times.

Goldman’s existing wealth management operations include around 450 private bankers managing around $480 billion. United Capital, meanwhile, has 220 advisors managing $25 billion out of 90 offices across the U.S. for 22,000 clients, the FT writes.

“We have a leading wealth management franchise, driven by our pre-eminent Private Wealth Management and Ayco offerings, which will serve as a cornerstone of our business ... to offer clients solutions across the wealth spectrum,” said David Solomon, who became Goldman’s chief executive seven months ago, according to the paper.

“United Capital will help accelerate this strategy by broadening our reach, allowing more clients to access the intellectual capital and investment capabilities of Goldman Sachs,” Solomon said, according to the paper.

United Capital’s clients are similar to those on Goldman’s Ayco platform, which offers financial planning through corporate human resources offices and directly to executives. Goldman acquired Ayco in 2004, the FT writes

Solomon has been working to shift Goldman away from investment banking toward more stable revenue sources, including through serving retail investors, according to the paper. The company is also trying to ramp up cross-selling of wealth management products through the Ayco platform, the FT writes.

Speaking to FA-IQ yesterday at this year’s Finra annual conference, Mark Casady, former chief executive of LPL, says he’s surprised by the price of current deals of this nature.

"If I were a buyer today, I’d find it hard to transact at these levels," says Casady, who completed 12 such deals while at LPL. "[But] if I’m Goldman Sachs and I don’t have [a wealth management] business, maybe these prices are actually quite cheap, because I can immediately have an infrastructure and a group of advisors who are quite talented."