A registered investment adviser (RIA) is a person or firm who advises individuals on investments and manages their portfolios. An examination of the RIA auditor market share reveals a slight divergence from a typical public market share analysis. In comparison to the overall market share of public companies, the RIA audit market is more diverse. Within the RIA audit market, there is a greater representation of mid-level and smaller accounting firms.
The Big Four firms are collectively the largest players in the RIA market. However, within the overall market population, there is significant diversity. In a market share analysis of this population, there are two primary ways to determine market share: by client count or by total client assets.
Regional Market Breakdown
As displayed below in the regional analysis, the overall population concentration can significantly vary between client count and client assets. As such, we examine both metrics in our analysis for RIA auditors as of December 31, 2020.
Examining regional auditor ranking by client count, one can see significant diversity regionally in terms of representation. Plante & Moran is the second largest RIA auditor in the Midwest, and Wolf & Company is the third in New England. Ashland Partners & Company ranks in the top 10 RIA auditors across all regions, and Spicer Jeffries ranks 5th and 6th in the Southwest and West respectively.
Diversity is also observed when examining regional auditor market share by total assets. Belfint Lyons & Shuman is the second-largest RIA auditor in New England. Meanwhile, Batchelor Tillery & Roberts is third in the Southwest. In the 5th-10th rankings, further diversity exists, with Elliot Davis ranking 5th in the Midwest, Bober Markey Fedorovich & Company ranks 6th in the Southwest, and Assurance Dimensions ranks 7th in the Southwest for regional auditor market share by total assets.
Overall RIA Market Breakdown
The overall RIA market shows significant diversity as well. An analysis of the market share by total client assets shows Belfint Lyons & Shuman ranks 5th, Batchelor Tillery & Roberts ranks 9th, and Delap ranks 10th. These firms possess significant portions of the market population and rank above some of the larger regional and global firms.
Diversity is also seen when analyzing market share by client count. For example, accounting firms Ashland Partners & Company and Spicer Jeffries represent more significant portions of the overall RIA market than many other larger regional and global accounting firms.
Many of the diverse firms performing RIA audits are industry specialists and have received significant recognition for their financial services, audit services, and advisory services. Compared to a typical auditor market share analysis, the RIA population displays significantly more diversity, indicating that the firms represented possess industry knowledge and resources that RIAs recognize and seek out when obtaining an external auditor.
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