RIA in a Box acquired by private equity firm Aquiline Capital

New owners plan more growth for the software service provider

May 23, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

Software service provider RIA in a Box has been acquired by the private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, this represents the latest in a growing trend of P-E investors adding exposure to the financial services industry.

Aquiline has appointed Barnaby Grist, a former senior executive at Schwab Advisor Services and Cetera Financial Group, as executive chairman of the board of RIA in a Box.

"The management team has built a market-leading business, and I see multiple opportunities to increase market penetration and expand the suite of services provided to clients," Mr. Grist said in a prepared statement. "The company will pursue organic growth initiatives as well as an acquisition strategy in the wealth management software and compliance industry."

Daniel Seivert, chief executive of investment bank Echelon Partners, said the deal is in line with P-E firms' appetite for fintech companies providing service as a software, or SaaS.

"P-E firms have been in love with these SaaS companies, because they have a high level of operating leverage: They build technology and then the cost stays relatively low," he said. "And RIA in a Box has made huge inroads in terms of automating."

Approximately 2,000 RIAs of varying sizes across the U.S. use the platform to increase compliance work-flow efficiency. Launched in 2005, RIA in a Box was acquired in 2011 by an investment group led by Will Bressman and GJ King.

David DeVoe, managing partner of DeVoe & Co., described the deal as "smart money continuing to invest in the independent wealth management space."

"I expect that Aquiline sees the trend of breakaways going independent and knows that RIA in a Box is helping that effort," he said.

In terms of Barnaby Grist coming on board, Mr. DeVoe described him as a "tremendous asset."

"I expect we will see some creative thinking in terms of which way this business could go in the future," Mr. DeVoe said.

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