Thursday, January 20, 2022

M&A Disciplining Misconduct in Investment Advisory Firms

There is an interesting new paper, Misconduct Synergies, by  Heather Tookes and Emmanuel Yimfor, which was recently the subject of a Business Scholarship Podcast.  The paper looks at misconduct at registered investment advisory firms after M&A activity.  It finds that "that disclosures of new disciplinary events in the combined firm drops by between 25 and 34 percent following mergers. This reduction is driven mainly by separations of high misconduct employees at the target firm."  In short, after M&A, employees with disciplinary records are much more likely to depart the firm.  

The RIA space is an interesting place to study employee misconduct and M&A activity.  Unlike most other industries, RIA firms have to disclose disciplinary and regulatory information in a way where it becomes publicly accessible.  It's also an interesting area to study because M&A activity has been booming for RIA firms.  Trimming away potential future regulatory issues may be a way to set up the combined firm for another deal.  It also finds that more of the target firm's employees separate than the acquiror, finding that "the sensitivity of separations to employee misconduct increases for target firm employees following mergers, suggesting stricter disciplinary mechanisms for target employees within the merged firm."  It's probably easier to clean house when it's a house you just bought.

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