focs_Current_Folio_10K

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

     ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

 

OR

 

     TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Commission File No. 001-38604

 

Focus Financial Partners Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

Delaware

47‑4780811

(State or Other Jurisdiction
of Incorporation or Organization)

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

 

 

875 Third Avenue, 28th Floor
New York, NY

10022

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

(Zip Code)

 

(646) 519‑2456

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title of each class

    

Trading Symbol(s)

    

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

FOCS

 

Nasdaq Global Select Market

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes  No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes  No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes  No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S -T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer 

Accelerated filer 

Non-accelerated filer 

Smaller reporting company 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b -2 of the Exchange Act): Yes No

 

 

The aggregate market value of the Class A common stock held by non-affiliates was $829,203,698 on June 28, 2019, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter.

 

As of February 20, 2020, the registrant had 47,421,315 shares of Class A common stock and 22,075,749 shares of Class B common stock outstanding.

 

Documents incorporated by reference:

 

The registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to the annual meeting of shareholders (to be held June 3, 2020) will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 and is incorporated by reference in Part III to the extent described herein.

 

 

 

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FOCUS FINANCIAL PARTNERS INC.

INDEX TO FORM 10‑K

FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019

 

 

 

 

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward‑Looking Statements 

1

Glossary 

2

PART I 

3

Item 1. 

Business

3

Item 1A. 

Risk Factors

18

Item 1B. 

Unresolved Staff Comments

39

Item 2. 

Properties

39

Item 3. 

Legal Proceedings

39

Item 4. 

Mine Safety Disclosures

39

PART II 

40

Item 5. 

Market For Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

40

Item 6. 

Selected Financial Data

40

Item 7. 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

42

Item 7A. 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

63

Item 8. 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

64

Item 9. 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

64

Item 9A. 

Controls and Procedures

64

Item 9B. 

Other Information

66

PART III 

67

Item 10. 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

67

Item 11. 

Executive Compensation

67

Item 12. 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

67

Item 13. 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

67

Item 14. 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

67

PART IV

 

Item 15. 

Exhibits

67

Signatures 

71

Index To Financial Statements 

F-1

 

 

 

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CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD‑LOOKING STATEMENTS

Some of the information in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K (this “Annual Report”) may contain forward‑looking statements. Forward‑looking statements give our current expectations, contain projections of results of operations or of financial condition, or forecasts of future events. Words such as “may,” “assume,” “forecast,” “position,” “predict,” “strategy,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “project,” “budget,” “potential,” “continue,” “will” and similar expressions are used to identify forward‑looking statements. They can be affected by assumptions used or by known or unknown risks or uncertainties. Consequently, no forward‑looking statements can be guaranteed. When considering these forward‑looking statements, you should keep in mind the risk factors and other cautionary statements described under “Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors.” Actual results may vary materially. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward‑looking statements. You should also understand that it is not possible to predict or identify all such factors and should not consider the following list to be a complete statement of all potential risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results contemplated by such forward‑looking statements include:

·

fluctuations in wealth management fees;

·

our reliance on our partner firms and the principals who manage their businesses;

·

our ability to make successful acquisitions;

·

unknown liabilities of or poor performance by acquired businesses;

·

harm to our reputation;

·

our inability to facilitate smooth succession planning at our partner firms;

·

our inability to compete;

·

our reliance on key personnel and principals;

·

our inability to attract, develop and retain talented wealth management professionals;

·

our inability to retain clients following an acquisition;

·

our reliance on key vendors;

·

write down of goodwill and other intangible assets;

·

our failure to maintain and properly safeguard an adequate technology infrastructure;

·

cyber‑attacks;

·

our inability to recover from business continuity problems;

·

inadequate insurance coverage;

·

the termination of management agreements by management companies;

·

our inability to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness or our ability to access additional capital;

·

the failure of our partner firms to comply with applicable U.S. and non‑U.S. regulatory requirements and the highly regulated nature of our business;

·

legal proceedings, governmental inquiries; and

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·

other factors discussed in this Annual Report.

All forward‑looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. Our forward‑looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report or as of the date as of which they are made. Except as required by applicable law, including federal securities laws, we do not intend to update or revise any forward‑looking statements.

 

GLOSSARY

The following terms are used throughout this Annual Report:

Base Earnings. This is a percentage of the estimated operating cash flow earnings before partner compensation (i.e. Target Earnings) upon which we apply a multiple to determine acquisition prices. We retain a cumulative preferred position in Base Earnings.

Commission‑based. Commission‑based revenue is derived from commissions paid by clients or payments from third parties for sales of investment or insurance products.

Fee‑based. Fee‑based services are those for which a partner firm primarily charges a fee directly to the client for wealth management services, recordkeeping and administration services and other services rather than being primarily compensated through commissions from third parties for recommending financial products.

Fiduciary Duty. A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act in another party’s interests, with utmost good faith, to make full and fair disclosure of all material facts and to exercise all reasonable care to avoid misleading clients.

GAAP. Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

High Net Worth. High net worth individuals are generally defined in the financial industry as those with liquid financial assets, excluding primary residence, in excess of $1 million.

Lift Out. The circumstance when a group of wealth management professionals, already working as a team, seeks to leave their current employer and join another employer or start their own registered investment advisor firm.

Open‑architecture. An investment platform that grants clients access to a wide range of investment funds and products offered by third parties. By contrast, a closed architecture is an investment platform that grants clients access only to proprietary investment funds and products.

Partnership. The term we use to refer to our business and relationship with our partner firms. It is not intended to describe a particular form of legal entity or a legal relationship.

Target Earnings. The estimated operating cash flow earnings before partner compensation.

Ultra‑High Net Worth. Ultra‑high net worth individuals are generally defined in the financial industry as those with liquid financial assets, excluding primary residence, in excess of $30 million.

Wealth Management. Comprehensive professional services that combine investment advice, financial and tax planning, consulting, tax return preparation, family office services and other services that help clients achieve their objectives regarding accumulation, preservation and distribution of long‑term wealth.

Wirehouse. Brokerage firm that provides a full range of investment, research, trading and wealth management services to clients. The term originated prior to the advent of modern wireless communications, when brokerage firms were connected to their branches primarily through telephone and telegraph wires.

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PART I

Unless otherwise indicated or the context requires, all references to “we”, “us”, “our”, the “Company”, “Focus Inc.” and similar terms for periods prior to our initial public offering (“IPO”) and related reorganization transactions (the “Reorganization Transactions”) refer to Focus Financial Partners, LLC and its subsidiaries. For periods subsequent to the IPO and Reorganization Transactions, these terms refer to Focus Financial Partners Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. “Focus LLC” refers to Focus Financial Partners, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and a consolidated subsidiary of ours following the IPO and Reorganization Transactions.

The term “partner firms” refers to our consolidated subsidiaries engaged in wealth management and related services, the businesses of which are typically managed by the principals. The term “principals” refers to the wealth management professionals who manage the businesses of our partner firms pursuant to the relevant management agreement. The term “our partnership” refers to our business and relationship with our partner firms and is not intended to describe a particular form of legal entity or a legal relationship.

Item 1.  Business

Corporate Structure

Focus Inc. was incorporated as a Delaware corporation on July 29, 2015 for the purpose of completing the IPO and Reorganization Transactions. On July 30, 2018, we completed our IPO of 18,648,649 shares of Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share. The shares began trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on July 26, 2018 under the ticker symbol “FOCS.” We used the proceeds from the IPO to purchase certain outstanding Focus LLC units, to reduce indebtedness under our credit facility and for acquisitions and general corporate business purposes.

In connection with the IPO and Reorganization Transactions, Focus Inc. became a holding company whose most significant asset is a membership interest in Focus LLC. Focus LLC directly or indirectly owns all of the outstanding equity interests in our partner firms. Focus Inc. is the sole managing member of Focus LLC and is responsible for all operational, management and administrative decisions of Focus LLC. Subject to certain restrictions, unitholders of Focus LLC (other than Focus Inc. and any of its subsidiaries) may receive shares of our Class A common stock pursuant to the exercise of an exchange right or a call right.

Our Company

We are a leading partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms operating in the highly fragmented registered investment adviser (“RIA”) industry, with a footprint of over 60 partner firms primarily in the United States. We have achieved this market leadership by positioning ourselves as the partner of choice for many firms in an industry where a number of secular trends are driving consolidation. Our partner firms primarily service ultra‑high net worth and high net worth individuals and families by providing highly differentiated and comprehensive wealth management services. Our partner firms benefit from our intellectual and financial resources, operating as part of a scaled business model with aligned economic interests, while retaining their entrepreneurial culture and independence.

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Our partnership is built on the following principles, which enable us to attract and retain high‑quality wealth management firms and accelerate their growth:

 

 

Entrepreneurship:

Maintain the entrepreneurial spirit, independence and unique culture of each partner firm.

 

 

Fiduciary Standard:

Partner with wealth management firms that are held to the fiduciary standard in serving their clients.

 

 

Alignment of Interests:

Align principals’ interests with our interests through our differentiated partnership and economic model.

 

 

Value‑Add Services:

Empower our partner firms through collaboration on strategy, growth and acquisition opportunities, marketing, technology and operational expertise, best practices, cash and credit solutions. Provide access to world‑class intellectual resources and capital to fund expansion and acquisitions.

 

We were founded by entrepreneurs and began revenue‑generating and acquisition activities in 2006. Since that time, we have:

·

created a partnership of over 60 partner firms, the substantial majority of which are RIAs registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) pursuant to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”);

·

built a business with revenues in excess of $1.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019;

·

increased revenues at a compound annual growth rate of 35.1% since 2006;

·

established an attractive revenue model whereby in excess of 95% of our revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 were fee‑based and recurring in nature;

·

built a partnership currently comprised of approximately 4,000 wealth management‑focused principals and employees; and

·

established a national footprint across the United States and expanded our presence internationally with partner firms in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

We are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the growing wealth management services industry. The delivery of wealth management services is moving from traditional brokerage, commission‑based platforms to a fiduciary, open‑architecture and fee‑based structure. This shift has resulted in a significant transfer of client assets and wealth management professionals out of traditional brokerage, commission‑based platforms to independent wealth management practices. We believe that our leading partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms positions us to benefit from these trends.

The independent wealth management industry, including RIAs, is highly fragmented, which we believe enables us to continue our growth strategy of acquiring high‑quality independent wealth management firms, directly and through acquisitions by our partner firms. We have a track record of enhancing the competitive position of our partner firms by providing them with access to the intellectual expertise, resources and network benefits of our large organization. Our scale enables us to help our partner firms achieve operational efficiencies and ensure organizational continuity. Additionally, our scale, resources and value‑added services increase our partner firms’ ability to achieve growth through a variety of tactical, operational and strategic initiatives, as well as the consummation of their own acquisitions. As our existing partner firms benefit from these growth initiatives, we continue to focus on acquisitions of new partner firms.

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Our partnership is comprised of trusted professionals providing comprehensive wealth management services through a largely recurring, fee‑based model, which differentiates our partner firms from the traditional brokerage platforms whose revenues are largely derived from commissions. We derive a substantial majority of our revenues from wealth management fees for investment advice, financial and tax planning, consulting, tax return preparation, family office services and other services. We also generate other revenues from recordkeeping and administration service fees, commissions and distribution fees and outsourced services.

Our Growth Strategy

We believe we are well‑positioned to take advantage of favorable trends in the wealth management industry, including the migration of wealth management professionals from traditional brokerage, commission‑based platforms to a fiduciary, open‑architecture and fee‑based structure. We plan to grow our business through the growth of our existing partner firms and the expansion of our partnership.

Growth of Our Existing Partner Firms

High‑Quality, Growth‑Oriented Partner Firms

Our goal has been and continues to be to acquire high‑quality, entrepreneurial wealth management firms that have built their businesses through a proven track record of growth. We believe that our partner firms will continue to take advantage of the shift in client assets to the RIA space and grow organically through acquisitions of wealth management practices and customer relationships, by attracting new clients, adding new wealth management professionals, increasing client assets from existing clients and through financial market appreciation over time. The economic arrangements put in place at the time of acquisition through our management agreements incentivize the principals of our partner firms to continue executing on their growth plans.

Value‑Added Services

We have a team of over 80 professionals who support our partner firms by providing value‑added services, including marketing and business development support; human resources support, including adviser coaching and development and structuring compensation and incentive models, career path planning and succession planning advice; operational and technology expertise, cash and credit solutions, legal and regulatory support and providing negotiating leverage with vendors. Our value‑added services also include access to our M&A expertise, which facilitates acquisition opportunities for our partner firms through a proactive outreach program, structuring, executing and funding transactions and providing guidance to partner firms to facilitate their integration into our partnership as well as integration of mergers they execute. We assign a relationship leader to each partner firm who is responsible for coordinating our value‑added services to assist that partner firm in accelerating its growth. These services are provided to our partner firms at no additional cost. Our partner firms also have access to our intellectual expertise and partner firm network, which ultimately enhance their operations, enabling them to better serve their clients.

Some of our key value‑added services are described in detail below.

Marketing and Business Development. We offer marketing and business development coaching to our partner firms on topics including referral programs, revenue enhancement measures, communications, website and social media, brand strategy and public relations support. Our marketing team works closely with each of our partner firms to understand their unique value proposition and help them better market themselves to their clients and their centers of influence, including accounting and law firms who serve as potential referral sources. To further support our partner firms, in June 2018 we completed a minority investment in Financial Insight Technology, Inc. (known as SmartAsset), a New York‑based fintech company that connects prospective clients with financial advisers and provides tools to help individuals make more informed financial decisions.

Talent Management. We support the mentoring of next‑generation talent at each of our partner firms through continuous coaching programs that we organize and execute. These programs emphasize key learnings gained from observing top talent across our organization, allowing our firms to benefit from best practices across our talent pool.

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Compensation Structures and Succession Planning. We help our partner firms align their compensation models to further incentivize their teams. We also facilitate wealth management professional career path planning and advise on principal promotions to the respective management company. These services allow our partner firms to attract and retain the highest quality wealth management professionals. Our acquisition structure facilitates succession planning by maintaining the partner firm and management company as separate entities, thereby allowing for the principals owning the management company to transition over time without disrupting client relationships at the partner firm.

Operations and Technology. We assist partner firms in selecting and implementing third‑party technology solutions that strengthen each firm’s operational performance. Our partner firms can request that our operations team conduct detailed operational assessments to determine their staffing and operating efficiency. Additionally, our operations team provides partner firms negotiating leverage with vendors and cost‑efficient access to third‑party technology.

Cash and Credit Solutions. Through Focus Client Solutions we have created a network of third-party banks and non-bank lenders to provide a competitive array of cash and credit solutions.  These alternatives enable our partner firms to proactively help their clients achieve higher yields on cash, as well as unlock home equity and business opportunities through refinancing, commercial lending and other options.

Legal and Regulatory Support. We have an experienced team of legal professionals in place to help support our partner firms in fulfilling their regulatory responsibilities by providing subject matter guidance and expertise. We also have relationships with numerous legal and compliance advisers to help each of our partner firms maintain a robust compliance culture.

Sharing of Best Practices / Collaboration with Other Partner Firms. Our partner firms have access to networking opportunities, best practices roundtable discussions and training seminars. We offer offsite meetings, seminars and other forums for partner firms to learn and adopt best practices. We host partners meetings each year where wealth management professionals from our partner firms have opportunities to meet face to face to collaborate and share ideas. In addition we host periodic summits for chief investment officers, chief compliance officers, chief operating officers, chief financial officers and chief marketing officers, where our partner firms can gather and share specialized expertise and business development practices. Our partner firms are also encouraged to share best practices regularly in order to enhance their collective ability to better serve their clients.

Acquisitions by Our Partner Firms

We are instrumental and support the acquisition of wealth management practices and customer relationships by our partner firms to further expand their businesses. Partner firms pursue acquisitions for a variety of reasons, including geographic expansion, acquisition of new talent and/or specific expertise and succession planning. Acquisitions by our partner firms allow them to add new talent and services to better support their client base while simultaneously capturing synergies from the acquired businesses. We believe there are currently approximately 5,000 firms in the United States that are suitable targets for our partner firms. We have an experienced team of professionals with deep industry relationships to assist in identifying potential acquisition targets for our partner firms. Through our proprietary in‑house sourcing effort, we frequently identify acquisition opportunities for our partner firms. Additionally, many of our partner firms are well‑known in the industry and have developed extensive relationships. In recent years, principals and employees of our partner firms have identified attractive merger candidates, and we believe this trend will continue as our partner firms continue to build scale.

In addition to sourcing opportunities, we are actively involved through each stage of the process to provide legal, financial, tax, compliance and operational expertise to guide our partner firms through the acquisition due diligence process and execution. We provide the funding for acquisitions in the same manner that a parent company would typically fund acquisitions by its subsidiaries.

Our partner firms typically acquire substantially all of the assets of a target firm for cash or a combination of cash and equity and the right to receive contingent consideration. In certain situations, when the acquisition involves a merger with a corporation, and the consideration includes our Class A common stock, Focus Inc. may purchase all of the

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equity of a target firm and then contribute the assets to our partner firm. In certain instances, our partner firms may acquire only the customer relationships. At the time a partner firm consummates an acquisition, we amend our management agreement with the partner firm to adjust Base Earnings and Target Earnings to reflect the projected post‑acquisition Earnings Before Partner Compensation (“EBPC”) of the partner firm.

Our partner firms completed 15 transactions in 2017, 17 transactions in 2018 and 28 transactions in 2019. With our approval and support, our partner firms may choose to merge with each other as well. Consolidation of our existing partner firms leads to efficiencies and incremental growth in our cash flows. Since January 2017, three partner firms have consummated mergers with other partner firms.

Expansion of Our Partnership

Acquisitions of New Partner Firms

Since inception, a fundamental aspect of our growth strategy has been the acquisition of high‑quality, independent wealth management firms to expand our partnership. We believe that there are approximately 1,000 firms in the United States that are high‑quality targets for future acquisitions. While most of our acquisitions have taken place in the United States, we also see opportunities in several countries where market and regulatory trends toward the fiduciary standard and open‑architecture access mirror those occurring in the United States. We have already begun expansion into the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Our differentiated partnership model and track record have allowed us to grow and enhance our leadership position in the independent wealth management industry.

We are highly selective in choosing our partner firms and conduct extensive financial, legal, tax, operational and business due diligence. We evaluate a variety of criteria including the quality of the wealth management professionals, client characteristics, historical revenues and cash flows, the recurring nature of the revenues, compliance policies and procedures and the alignment of interests between wealth management professionals and clients. We focus on firms with owners who are committed to the long‑term management and growth of their businesses.

With limited exceptions, our partner firm acquisitions have been structured as acquisitions of substantially all of the assets of the firm we choose to partner with but only a portion of the underlying economics in order to align the principals’ interests with our own objectives. To determine the acquisition price, we first estimate the operating cash flow of the business based on current and projected levels of revenue and expense, before compensation and benefits to the selling principals or other individuals who become principals. We refer to the operating cash flow of the business as Earnings Before Partner Compensation or EBPC, and to this EBPC estimate as Target Earnings. In economic terms, we typically purchase 40% to 60% of the partner firm’s EBPC. We refer to the corresponding percentage of Target Earnings on which we base the purchase price as “Base Earnings.” Under a management agreement between our operating subsidiary and the management company and the principals, the management company is entitled to management fees typically consisting of all future EBPC of the acquired wealth management firm in excess of Base Earnings up to Target Earnings, plus a percentage of any EBPC in excess of Target Earnings. Through the management agreement, we create downside protection for ourselves by retaining a cumulative preferred position in Base Earnings.

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Since 2006, when we began revenue‑generating and acquisition activities, we have grown to a partnership with over 60 partner firms. Acquisitions of partner firms to date have been structured as illustrated below, with limited exceptions. Subsidiary mergers at the partner firm level have been structured differently, and in the future we may structure acquisitions in foreign jurisdictions differently depending on legal and tax considerations.

Picture 1


(1)

Focus LLC forms a wholly owned subsidiary.

(2)

In exchange for cash or a combination of cash and equity and the right to receive contingent consideration, the new operating subsidiary acquires substantially all of the assets of the target firm, which is owned by the selling principals, and becomes the successor firm.

(3)

The selling principals form a management company. In addition to the selling principals, the management company may include non‑selling principals who become newly admitted in connection with the acquisition or thereafter.

(4)

The new operating subsidiary, the principals and the management company enter into a management agreement which typically has an initial term of six years subject to automatic renewals for consecutive one‑year terms, unless earlier terminated by either the management company or us in certain limited situations. Under the management agreement, the management company is entitled to management fees typically consisting of all future EBPC of the new operating subsidiary in excess of Base Earnings up to Target Earnings, plus a percentage of any EBPC in excess of Target Earnings. Pursuant to the management agreement, the management company provides the personnel who conduct the day‑to‑day operations of the new operating subsidiary. Through the management agreement, we create downside protection for ourselves by retaining a cumulative preferred position in each partner firm’s Base Earnings.

In connection with a typical acquisition, we enter into an acquisition agreement with the target firm and its selling principals pursuant to which we purchase substantially all of the assets of the target firm. The purchase price is a multiple of Base Earnings, which is a percentage of Target Earnings. The purchase price is comprised of a base purchase price and a right to receive contingent consideration in the form of earn out payments. The contingent consideration for acquisitions of new partner firms is generally paid over a six-year period upon the satisfaction of specified growth thresholds in years three and six.  These growth thresholds are typically tied to the compounded annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of the partner firm’s earnings. Such growth thresholds can be set annually over the six-year period as well. The contingent consideration for acquisitions made by our partner firms is paid upon the satisfaction of specified financial thresholds, which are typically annual. These thresholds are typically tied to revenue as adjusted for certain criteria or other operating metrics, based on the retention or growth of the business acquired. These arrangements may

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result in the payment of additional purchase price consideration to the sellers for periods following the closing of an acquisition. Contingent consideration payments are typically payable in cash and, in some cases, equity.

The acquisition agreements contain customary representations and warranties of the parties, and closing is generally conditioned on the delivery of certain ancillary documents, including an executed management agreement, a confidentiality and non‑solicitation agreement, a non‑competition agreement and a notice issued by the acquired firm to its clients notifying them of the acquisition and requesting their consent for the assignment of any agreements to the successor firm.

In connection with the acquisition, management companies and selling principals agree to non‑competition and non‑solicitation provisions of the management agreement, as well as standalone non‑competition and non‑solicitation agreements required by the acquisition agreement. Such non‑competition and non‑solicitation agreements typically have five‑year terms. The non‑competition and non‑solicitation provisions of the management agreement continue during the term of the management agreement and for a period of two years thereafter.

Our partner firms are primarily overseen by the principals who own the management company formed concurrently with the acquisition. Our operating subsidiary, the management company and the principals enter into a long‑term management agreement pursuant to which the management company provides the personnel responsible for overseeing the day‑to‑day operations of the partner firm. The term of the management agreement is generally six years subject to automatic renewals for consecutive one‑year terms, unless earlier terminated by either the management company or us. Subject to applicable cure periods, we may terminate the management agreement upon the occurrence of an event of cause, which may include willful misconduct by the management company or any principal that is reasonably likely to result in a material adverse effect, the failure of the management company to comply with regulatory or other governmental compliance procedures or a material breach of the agreement by the management company or the principals. In some cases, we may have the right to terminate the agreement if any principal ceases to be involved on a full‑time basis in the management of the management company or the performance of services under the agreement. Generally, the management company may terminate the management agreement upon a material breach of the agreement by us and the expiration of the applicable cure period.

This ownership and management structure allows the principals to maintain their entrepreneurial spirit through autonomous day‑to‑day decision making, while gaining access to our extensive resources and preserving the principals’ long‑term economic incentive to continue to grow the business. The management company structure provides both flexibility to us and stability to our partner firms by permitting the principals to continue to build equity value in the management company as the partner firm grows and to control their internal economics and succession plans within the management company.

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The following table provides an illustrative example of our economics, including management fees earned by the management company, for periods of projected revenues, +10% growth in revenues and −10% growth in revenues. This example assumes (i) Target Earnings of $3.0 million; (ii) Base Earnings acquired of 60% of Target Earnings or $1.8 million; and (iii) a percentage of earnings in excess of Target Earnings retained by the management company of 40%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Projected

    

+10% Growth

    

−10% Growth 

 

 

 

 

Revenues

 

in Revenues

 

in Revenues

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

New Partner Firm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New partner firm revenues

 

$

5,000

 

$

5,500

 

$

4,500

 

 

Less:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses (excluding management fees)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

EBPC

 

$

3,000

 

$

3,500

 

$

2,500

 

 

Base Earnings to Focus Inc. (60%)

 

 

1,800

 

 

1,800

 

 

1,800

 

 

Management fees to management company (40%)

 

 

1,200

 

 

1,200

 

 

700

 

 

EBPC in excess of Target Earnings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Focus Inc. (60%)

 

 

 —

 

 

300

 

 

 —

 

 

To management company as management fees (40%)

 

 

 —

 

 

200

 

 

 —

 

 

Focus Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus Inc. revenues

 

$

5,000

 

$

5,500

 

$

4,500

 

 

Less:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses (excluding management fees)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

(2,000)

 

 

Less:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Management fees to management company

 

 

(1,200)

 

 

(1,400)

 

 

(700)

 

 

Operating income

 

$

1,800

 

$

2,100

 

$

1,800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In certain circumstances, the structure of our relationship with partner firms may differ from the typical structure described above. In addition, our future international acquisitions may not be structured like our typical partner firm acquisitions. For example, the structure of our ownership interests in non‑U.S. partner firms may differ from the way in which we own our U.S. partner firms.

Lift Outs of Established Wealth Management Professionals

From time to time, through Focus Independence, we offer teams of wealth management professionals at traditional brokerage firms and wirehouses with attractive track records and books of business the opportunity to establish their own independent wealth management firm and ultimately join our partnership as a new partner firm. This program gives these professionals the opportunity to build a business largely unencumbered by the conflicts of interest they face at traditional brokerage firms and wirehouses and with more favorable economics. Focus Independence is a targeted approach to lift out teams of wealth management professionals from traditional brokerage firms and wirehouses with attractive track records and books of business and make them entrepreneurs within our partnership. The program has been successful, with the substantial majority of ultra‑high net worth and high net worth clients retained by the newly formed partner firm. We have completed 14 acquisitions of new partner firms through Focus Independence.  

We work with each team of wealth management professionals to establish a new RIA business and provide consultation as needed on virtually everything needed to transition to and operate the new RIA as a full‑service firm, including technology, personnel and office space. With many teams, we enter into an option agreement, which provides us with the option to acquire substantially all of the assets of the RIA 12 to 13 months after the team’s resignation date from the brokerage firm or wirehouse. The option agreement provides a purchase price formula, typically equal to a multiple of the portion of the new RIA’s run-rate EBPC at the time of acquisition closing. The option agreement also

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establishes the portion of the purchase price to be paid in cash and equity. Transactions with teams where we do not enter into an option agreement may be structured more like a typical acquisition.

Our Partner Firms

Our partner firms provide comprehensive wealth management services to ultra‑high net worth and high net worth individuals and families, as well as business entities, under a largely recurring, fee‑based model. Our partner firms provide these services across a diverse range of investment styles, asset classes and clients. The substantial majority of our partner firms are RIAs, and certain of our partner firms also have affiliated broker‑dealers and/or insurance brokers. Several of our partner firms and their principals have been recognized as leading wealth management firms and advisers by financial publications such as Barron’s, The Financial Times and Forbes.

Our partner firms derive a substantial majority of their revenues from wealth management fees for investment advice, financial and tax planning, consulting, tax return preparation, family office services and other services. Wealth management fees are primarily based either on a contractual percentage of the client assets, a flat fee, an hourly rate or a combination of such fees and are billed either in advance or arrears on a monthly, quarterly or semiannual basis. We also generate other revenue from recordkeeping and administration service fees, commissions and distribution fees and outsourced services.

We currently have over 60 partner firms. All of our partner firm acquisitions have been paid for with cash or a combination of cash and equity and the right to receive contingent consideration. We have to date, with limited exceptions, acquired substantially all of the assets of the firms we choose to partner with and have assumed only post‑closing contractual obligations, not any material existing liabilities.

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The following is a list of our partner firms as of February 25, 2020:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

    

Joined through

    

Acquisition(s)

 

 

Partner

 

Focus

 

Completed by

Partner Firm

 

Firm Since

 

Independence

 

Partner Firm

 

 

2006

 

 

 

 

StrategicPoint

 

January

 

 

 

 

HoyleCohen

 

May

 

 

 

 

2007

 

 

 

Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group

 

January

 

 

 

Buckingham

 

February

 

 

 

Benefit Financial Services Group

 

March

 

 

 

JFS Wealth Advisors

 

August

 

 

 

Atlas Private Wealth Management

 

September

 

 

 

GW & Wade

 

September

 

 

 

 

 

2008

 

 

 

 

Greystone

 

April

 

 

 

WESPAC

 

July

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009

 

 

 

 

Joel Isaacson & Co.

 

November

 

 

 

 

Coastal Bridge Advisors

 

December

 

 

 

 

2010

 

 

 

 

Pettinga

 

December

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011

 

 

 

 

Sapient Private Wealth Management

 

September

 

 

The Colony Group

 

October

 

 

 

LVW Advisors

 

October

 

 

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

Vestor Capital

 

October

 

 

 

 

Merriman

 

December

 

 

 

The Portfolio Strategy Group

 

December

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013

 

 

 

 

LaFleur & Godfrey

 

August

 

 

 

 

Telemus Capital

 

August

 

 

 

 

 

2014

 

 

 

 

Summit Financial

 

April

 

 

Flynn Family Office

 

June

 

 

 

Gratus Capital

 

October

 

 

 

Strategic Wealth Partners

 

November

 

 

 

 

 

2015

 

 

 

 

IFAM Capital

 

February

 

 

 

Dorchester Wealth Management

 

April

 

 

 

The Fiduciary Group

 

April

 

 

 

 

Quadrant Private Wealth

 

July

 

 

Relative Value Partners

 

July

 

 

 

 

Fort Pitt Capital Group

 

October

 

 

 

Patton Albertson Miller Group

 

October

 

 

 

 

 

2016

 

 

 

 

Douglas Lane & Associates

 

January

 

 

 

 

Kovitz Investment Group Partners

 

January

 

 

 

Waddell & Associates

 

April

 

 

 

 

Transform Wealth

 

April

 

 

 

GYL Financial Synergies

 

August

 

 

 

XML Financial Group

 

October

 

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

 

Crestwood Advisors

 

January

 

 

 

CFO4Life

 

February

 

 

 

One Charles Private Wealth

 

February

 

 

Bordeaux Wealth Advisors

 

March

 

 

 

 

Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman

 

April

 

 

 

Lake Street Advisors

 

April

 

 

 

 

Financial Professionals

 

May

 

 

 

 

SCS Financial Services

 

July

 

 

 

Brownlie & Braden

 

July

 

 

 

 

Eton Advisors

 

September

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

 

 

 

 

Cornerstone Wealth

 

January

 

 

 

Fortem Financial

 

February

 

 

 

Bartlett Wealth Management

 

April

 

 

 

Campbell Deegan Financial

 

April

 

 

 

Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno (NKSFB)

 

April

 

 

 

TrinityPoint Wealth

 

May

 

 

Asset Advisors Investment Management

 

July

 

 

 

 

Edge Capital Group

 

August

 

 

 

 

Vista Wealth Management

 

August

 

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

 

 

Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi

 

January

 

 

 

 

Prime Quadrant

 

February

 

 

 

 

Foster, Dykema & Cabot

 

March

 

 

 

 

Escala Partners

 

April

 

 

 

 

Sound View Wealth Advisors

 

April

 

 

 

Williams Jones

 

August

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020

 

 

 

 

Nexus Investment Management

 

February

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The following shows certain of the value‑added services we have provided to our partner firms through February 25, 2020:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value‑Added Services

 

 

 

 

Operational

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing and

 

and

 

Legal and

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business

 

Technology

 

Compliance

 

Talent

 

Succession

Partner Firm

    

Development

    

Enhancements

    

Support

    

Management

    

Planning

StrategicPoint

 

 

 

 

 

HoyleCohen

 

 

 

 

 

Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group

 

 

 

 

 

Buckingham

 

 

 

 

 

Benefit Financial Services Group

 

 

 

 

 

JFS Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Private Wealth Management

 

 

 

 

 

GW & Wade

 

 

 

 

 

Greystone

 

 

 

 

 

 

WESPAC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joel Isaacson & Co.

 

 

 

 

 

Coastal Bridge Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

Pettinga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sapient Private Wealth Management

 

 

 

 

 

The Colony Group

 

 

 

 

 

LVW Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

Vestor Capital

 

 

 

 

 

Merriman

 

 

 

 

 

The Portfolio Strategy Group

 

 

 

 

 

LaFleur & Godfrey

 

 

 

 

 

Telemus Capital

 

 

 

 

 

Summit Financial

 

 

 

 

 

Flynn Family Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratus Capital

 

 

 

 

 

Strategic Wealth Partners

 

 

 

 

 

IFAM Capital

 

 

 

 

 

Dorchester Wealth Management

 

 

 

 

 

The Fiduciary Group

 

 

 

 

 

Quadrant Private Wealth

 

 

 

 

 

Relative Value Partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Pitt Capital Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patton Albertson Miller Group

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Lane & Associates

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kovitz Investment Group Partners

 

 

 

 

 

Waddell & Associates

 

 

 

 

 

Transform Wealth

 

 

 

 

 

GYL Financial Synergies

 

 

 

 

 

XML Financial Group

 

 

 

 

 

Crestwood Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFO4Life

 

 

 

 

 

One Charles Private Wealth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bordeaux Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Street Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financial Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCS Financial Services

 

 

 

 

 

Brownlie & Braden

 

 

 

 

 

Eton Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

Cornerstone Wealth

 

 

 

 

 

Fortem Financial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bartlett Wealth Management

 

 

 

 

 

Campbell Deegan Financial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein, & Bolno (NKSFB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

TrinityPoint Wealth

 

 

 

 

 

Asset Advisors Investment Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edge Capital Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vista Wealth Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prime Quadrant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foster, Dykema & Cabot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Escala Partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound View Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Williams Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nexus Investment Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our partner firms are primarily located in the United States. In addition, we have one partner firm, Greystone, in the United Kingdom, two partner firms, Dorchester Wealth Management and Prime Quadrant, in Canada and two partner firms, Escala Partners and Financial Professionals, in Australia. The following table shows our domestic and international revenues for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2018 and 2019:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Year Ended December 31, 

 

 

    

2017

    

2018

    

2019

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Domestic revenue

 

$

643,077

    

97.0

%  

$

889,166

    

97.6

%  

$

1,170,169

    

96.0

%

International revenue

 

 

19,810

 

3.0

%  

 

21,714

 

2.4

%  

 

48,172

 

4.0

%

Total revenue

 

$

662,887

 

100.0

%  

$

910,880

 

100.0

%  

$

1,218,341

 

100.0

%

 

In February 2020, we acquired an additional partner firm in Canada, Nexus Investment Management.

 

The maps below show the locations of our partner firms as of February 25, 2020. The majority of our partner firms operate multiple offices and in multiple states.

Picture 3

Upon joining our partnership, each partner firm transitions its operations to our common general ledger, payroll and cash management systems. Our common general ledger system provides us access to financial information of each partner firm and is designed to accommodate the varied needs of each individual business. We control payroll and payment of management fees for partner firms through a common disbursement process. The common payroll system allows us to effectively monitor compensation, new hires, terminations and other personnel changes. We employ a cash management system under which cash held by partner firms above a threshold is transferred into our centralized accounts. The cash management system enables us to control and secure our cash flow and more efficiently monitor  partner firm earnings and financial position.

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We and our partner firms devote substantial time and effort to remaining current on, and addressing, regulatory and compliance matters. Each of our registered partner firms has its own chief compliance officer and has established a compliance program to help detect and prevent compliance violations.

While the chief compliance officers at our partner firms are principally responsible for maintaining their respective compliance programs and for tailoring them to the specifics of their partner firms’ businesses, we have an experienced team of legal professionals in place at the holding company to support our partner firms in fulfilling their regulatory responsibilities by providing additional guidance and expertise. We collaborate with each of our partner firms in its completion of an annual compliance risk assessment, which is conducted by an outside law firm or a compliance consulting firm. We also engage third‑party firms to conduct periodic cybersecurity audits and help coordinate completion of certain other employee training. We also monitor how our partner firms address risk assessment recommendations and regulatory exam findings. We also work with our partner firms to assist them in identifying qualified legal and compliance advisers by leveraging our extensive relationships.

Competition

The wealth management industry is very competitive. We compete with a broad range of wealth management firms, including public and privately held investment advisers, traditional brokerage firms and wirehouses, firms associated with securities broker‑dealers, financial institutions, private equity firms and insurance companies. We believe that important factors affecting our partner firms’ ability to compete for clients include the ability to attract and retain key wealth management professionals, investment performance, wealth management fee rates, the quality of services provided to clients, the depth and continuity of client relationships, adherence to the fiduciary standard and reputation.

We strategically built a leading partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms led by entrepreneurs through a unique, disciplined and proven acquisition strategy. Our differentiated partnership model has allowed us to grow and enhance our leadership position in the wealth management industry. As we continue our growth strategy of acquiring high‑quality partner firms, we believe that important factors affecting our ability to compete for future acquisitions include:

·

the degree to which target wealth management firms view our partnership model as preferable, financially and operationally or otherwise, to acquisition or other arrangements offered by other potential purchasers;

·

the reputation and performance of our existing and future partner firms, by which target wealth management firms may judge us and our future prospects; and

·

the quality and breadth of our value‑added services.

Employees

As of December 31, 2019, we had over 3,400 employees, 83 of whom were employed at the holding company.

Additionally, as of December 31, 2019, there were over 500 principals who were part of the management companies that oversaw partner firms and were not our employees.

Trademarks

We own many registered trademarks and service marks in the United States. We believe the Focus Financial Partners name and the many distinctive marks associated with it are of significant value and are very important to our business. Accordingly, as a general policy, we monitor the use of our marks and vigorously oppose any unauthorized use of them.

We register some of our copyrighted material and otherwise rely on common law protection of our copyrighted materials, but these are not material to our business.

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Available Information

We are required to file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and certain other information with the SEC. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding registrants that file electronically with the SEC. Any documents filed by us with the SEC, including this Annual Report, can be downloaded from the SEC’s website.

We also make available free of charge through our website, www.focusfinancialpartners.com, electronic copies of certain documents that we file with the SEC, including our Annual Reports on Form 10‑K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10‑Q, Current Reports on Form 8‑K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.

Regulatory Environment

Existing Regulation

Our partner firms are subject to extensive regulation in the United States. In addition, Greystone, Dorchester, Prime Quadrant, Nexus Investment Management, Financial Professionals and Escala are subject to extensive regulation in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, as applicable. In the United States, our partner firms are subject to regulation primarily at the federal level, including regulation by the SEC under the Advisers Act, by the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), and by the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) for our partner firm subsidiaries that are broker‑dealers. Our partner firms may also be subject to regulation by state regulators for insurance and several other aspects of our partner firms’ activities. Outside of the United States, Greystone is primarily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom, Dorchester, Prime Quadrant and Nexus Investment Management are primarily regulated by the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces, and Financial Professionals and Escala are primarily regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (“ASIC”).

Our U.S. based partner firms that are investment advisers are registered with the SEC under the Advisers Act. The Advisers Act imposes numerous obligations on RIAs, including fiduciary duties, compliance and disclosure obligations, recordkeeping requirements and operational requirements. Certain of our partner firms sponsor unregistered and registered funds in the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions. These activities subject those partner firms to additional regulatory requirements in those jurisdictions. In addition, many state securities commissions impose filing requirements on investment advisers that operate or have places of business in their states. Similarly, many states require certain client facing employees of RIAs and FINRA‑registered broker‑dealers to become state-licensed.

Certain of our partner firms have affiliated SEC registered broker‑dealers for the purpose of distributing funds or other securities products or facilitating securities transactions. Broker‑dealers and their personnel are regulated, to a large extent, by the SEC and self‑regulatory organizations, principally FINRA. In addition, state regulators have supervisory authority over broker‑dealer activities conducted in their states. Broker‑dealers are subject to regulations which cover virtually all aspects of their business, including sales practices, trading practices, use and safekeeping of clients’ funds and securities, recordkeeping and the conduct of directors, officers, employees and representatives. Broker‑dealers are also subject to net capital rules that mandate that they maintain certain levels of capital. Certain partner firms have employees who are registered representatives with either affiliated or unaffiliated broker‑dealers.

Certain of our partner firms have licensed insurance affiliates. State insurance laws grant state insurance regulators broad administrative powers. These supervisory agencies regulate many aspects of the insurance business, including the licensing of insurance brokers and agents and other insurance intermediaries, and trade practices such as marketing, advertising and compensation arrangements entered into by insurance brokers and agents.

Our partner firms are also subject to regulation by the DOL under ERISA and related regulations with respect to investment advisory and management services provided to participants in retirement plans covered by ERISA and subject to regulation by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) with respect to individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”)

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pursuant to comparable provisions within the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”). Among other requirements, ERISA  and the IRC imposes duties on persons who are fiduciaries under ERISA and the IRC, respectively, and prohibit certain transactions involving related parties.

Additionally, we and our partner firms are subject to various state, federal and international data privacy and cybersecurity laws designed to protect client and employee personally identifiable information. These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number, which has resulted in greater compliance risk and cost for us. The unauthorized access, use, theft or destruction of client or employee personal, financial or other data could expose us to potential financial penalties and legal liability.

Additional Regulatory Reform

Our partner firms are subject to the numerous regulatory reform initiatives in the United States and in international jurisdictions where they operate. New laws or regulations, or changes in enforcement of existing laws or regulations, could have a material and adverse impact on the scope or profitability of our partner firms’ business activities or require us and/or our partner firms to change business practices and incur additional costs as well as potential reputational harm.

As examples, on June 5, 2019, the SEC adopted a package of rulemakings and interpretations that impose a best interest standard of conduct for broker‑dealers, requires investment advisers and broker-dealers to deliver short‑form disclosure documents to retail investors and clarifies the SEC’s views on the fiduciary duty that investment advisers owe to their clients. Our partner firms are developing their required short-form disclosure document by the June 30, 2020 compliance date.  The impact of other elements of the rulemakings and interpretations on our partner firms and the industry is unclear at this time.

On November 4, 2019, the SEC proposed new rules regarding investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors.  These proposed rules, if adopted, would largely replace the current advertising rules’ broad prohibitions and limitations with principles-based regulation.  The rules would also extend the current solicitation rule to cover non-cash as well as cash compensation.  While initially the impact of these rules appears positive for the business of our partner firms, the ultimate impact will be uncertain until any final rules are adopted and fully implemented.

On February 1, 2019, a Royal Commission in Australia issued a highly publicized report following a 12‑month inquiry of misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. The report makes many recommendations that, if adopted into law or regulations, could impact our existing or any future Australian partner firms or investments. Some of the regulations include a new system of registration for financial advisers to be overseen by a new regulatory body and the repeal of carve‑outs and grandfathering of certain conflicted remuneration prohibitions.

In December 2019, the Canadian Securities Administrators adopted amendments to National Instrument 31-103 and its related Companion Policy which will impose new heightened requirements on our Canadian partner firms with respect to conflicts of interest, know your client, know your product and suitability obligations. In addition, in December 2019, our U.K. wealth management partner firm became subject to the new Senior Managers and Certification Regime which provides for additional firm and individual responsibilities and enhanced oversight by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.

Of the many data privacy and cybersecurity laws being enacted or considered, the California Consumer Privacy Act became effective on January 1, 2020.  This act requires certain partner firms to review and enhance their governance regarding the collection and categorizing of certain personal information.  They were also required to develop procedures to respond to consumer requests to be informed of their personal information that is collected and to have such information deleted if desired, among other elements.

In addition, financial regulators are increasing their enforcement and examination attention across a wide range of activities and business practices, including disclosure, conflicts of interest, cybersecurity, business continuity and succession planning. Such enhanced scrutiny may increase the likelihood of enforcement actions or violation findings, or

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cause us or our partner firms to change business practices or incur additional costs. It is also not possible to predict how such changes may impact the businesses of our competitors and the competitive dynamics of the industry.

 

Item 1A. Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the information in this Annual Report and the following risks. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by any of these risks. The risks described below are not the only ones facing us. Additional risks not presently known to us or which we consider immaterial also may adversely affect us.

Risks Related to Capital Markets and Competition

Our financial results largely depend on wealth management fees received by our partner firms, which are impacted by market fluctuations.

The substantial majority of our revenues are derived from the wealth management fees charged by our partner firms for providing clients with investment advice, financial and tax planning, consulting, tax return preparation, family office services and other services. A material portion of these wealth management fees are calculated based on a contractual percentage of the client’s assets. Wealth management fees may be adversely affected by prolonged declines in the capital markets because assets of clients may decline. Global economic conditions, exacerbated by changes in the equity or debt marketplaces, unanticipated changes in currency exchange rates, interest rates, inflation rates, the yield curve, financial crises, war, terrorism, natural disasters or other factors that are difficult to predict affect the capital markets. If unfavorable market conditions, actions taken by clients in response to market conditions (such as clients reducing or eliminating the amount of their assets with respect to which our partner firms provide advice) or volatility in the capital markets cause a decline in client assets overseen by our partner firms, such a decline could result in lower revenues from wealth management fees. If our partner firms’ revenues decline without a commensurate reduction in their expenses, their net income will be reduced and their business will be negatively affected, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

The historical returns of existing investment strategies of our partner firms may not be indicative of their future results or of the future results of investment strategies they may develop in the future.

The historical returns of our partner firms’ existing investment strategies should not be considered indicative of the future results of these strategies or of the results of any other strategies that our partner firms may develop in the future. The investment performance that our partner firms achieve for their clients varies over time, and the variance can be wide. The performance that our partner firms achieve as of a future date and for a future period may be higher or lower, and the difference may be material. During times of negative economic and market conditions, our partner firms may not be able to identify investment opportunities within their current or future strategies.

Our partner firms may not be able to maintain their current wealth management fee structure as a result of poor investment performance or competitive pressures or as a result of changes in their mix of wealth management services, which could have an adverse effect on our partner firms’ results of operations.

Our partner firms may not be able to maintain their current wealth management fee structure for any number of reasons, including as a result of poor investment performance, competitive pressures or changes in their mix of wealth management services. In order to maintain their fee structure in a competitive environment, our partner firms must be able to continue to provide clients with services that their clients believe justify their fees. Our partner firms may not succeed in providing the services that will allow them to maintain their current fee structure. If our partner firms’ investment strategies perform poorly, they may be forced to lower their fees in order to retain current, and attract additional, clients. Such decline in a partner firm’s revenue could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

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The wealth management industry is very competitive.

We compete for acquisition opportunities and our partner firms compete for clients, advisers and other personnel with a broad range of wealth management firms, including public and privately held investment advisers, firms associated with securities broker‑dealers, financial institutions, private equity firms and insurance companies, many of whom have greater resources than we do. The wealth management industry is very competitive, with competition based on a variety of factors, including the ability to attract and retain key wealth management professionals, investment performance, wealth management fee rates, the quality of services provided to clients, the depth and continuity of client relationships and adherence to the fiduciary standard and reputation. A number of factors, including the following, serve to increase the competitive risks of our partner firms: (i) many competitors have greater financial, technical, marketing, name recognition and other resources and more personnel than our partner firms do, (ii) potential competitors have a relatively low cost of entering the wealth management industry, (iii) some competitors may invest according to different investment styles or in alternative asset classes that the markets may perceive as more attractive than the investment strategies our partner firms offer, (iv) some competitors charge lower fees for their wealth management services than our partner firms do and (v) some competitors may be able to engage in more widespread marketing activities or may have access to products and services to which our partner firms do not.

If we are unable to compete effectively, our results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Operations

Because clients can terminate their client service contracts at any time, poor wealth management service or performance of the investment strategies that our partner firms recommend may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Our clients can generally terminate their client service contracts with us at any time. We cannot be certain that we will be able to retain our existing clients or attract new clients, and these client service contracts and client relationships may be terminated or not renewed for any number of reasons. In particular, poor wealth management service or performance of the investment strategies that our partner firms recommend relative to the performance of other wealth management firms could result in the loss of accounts. Moreover, certain clients specify guidelines regarding investment allocation and strategy that our partner firms are required to follow in managing their portfolios, and the failure to comply with any of these guidelines and other limitations could result in losses to clients, which could result in the obligation to make clients whole for such losses. If we believe that the circumstances do not justify a reimbursement, or our client believes that the reimbursement it was offered was insufficient, the client could seek to recover damages from us in addition to terminating its client service contract. Any of these events could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition and harm our reputation.

Our results of operations could be adversely affected if we are unable to facilitate smooth succession planning.

We cannot predict with certainty how long the principals or employees of our partner firms will continue working, and upon the retirement or exit of a principal or employee, a partner firm’s business may be adversely affected. If we are not successful in facilitating succession planning of our partner firms, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

If our reputation is harmed, we could suffer losses in our business and financial results.

Our business depends on earning and maintaining the trust and confidence of our partner firms and the clients of our partner firms. Our reputation is critical to our business and is vulnerable to threats that may be difficult or impossible to control and costly or impossible to remediate. For example, failure to comply with applicable laws, rules or regulations, errors in our public reports or litigation or the publicity surrounding these events, even if satisfactorily addressed, could adversely impact our reputation, our relationships with our partner firms and the clients of

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our partner firms and our ability to negotiate acquisitions and partner firm‑level acquisitions with wealth management firms, as well as adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Our reliance on our partner firms to report their results to us may make it difficult to respond quickly to negative business developments, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

We rely on our partner firms to report their results to us on a monthly basis. We have implemented common general ledger, payroll and cash management systems that allow us to monitor the financial performance and overall operations of our partner firms. However, if our partner firms delay reporting results or informing us of negative business developments, we may not be able to address the situation on a timely basis, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Our controls and procedures may fail or be circumvented, our risk management policies and procedures may be inadequate and operational risks could adversely affect our reputation and financial condition.

We and our partner firms have adopted various controls, procedures, policies and systems to monitor and manage risk in our business. Some of our risk evaluation methods depend upon information provided by our partner firms and others and public information regarding markets, clients or other matters. In some cases, however, that information may not be accurate, complete or up‑to‑date. While we currently believe that our operational controls are effective, we cannot provide assurance that those controls, procedures, policies and systems will always be adequate to identify and manage the internal and external risks in our business in a timely manner. Furthermore, we may have errors in our business processes or fail to implement proper procedures in operating our business, which may expose us to risk of financial loss. We are also subject to the risk that our employees or contractors, the employees or contractors of our partner firms or other third parties may deliberately seek to circumvent established controls to commit fraud or act in ways that are inconsistent with our and our partner firms’ controls, policies and procedures. The financial and reputational impact of control failures could be significant.

In addition, our businesses and the markets in which we operate are continuously evolving. If our risk framework is ineffective, either because it fails to keep pace with changes in the financial markets, regulatory requirements or our business, counterparties, clients or service providers or for other reasons, we could incur losses, suffer reputational damage or fall out of compliance with applicable regulatory or contractual mandates or expectations. Any of these events could adversely affect our reputation and financial condition.

The potential for human error in connection with the operational systems of Focus Inc. or its partner firms could disrupt operations, cause losses or lead to regulatory fines and may have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and reputation.

The operations of Focus Inc. and its partner firms are dependent on its employees and principals. From time‑to‑time, employees or principals may make mistakes that are not always immediately detected by systems and controls and policies and procedures intended to prevent and detect such errors. These can include calculation errors, errors in inputting orders, errors in software implementation, failure to ensure data security, follow processes, patch systems or report issues, follow regulations or internal compliance procedures or errors in judgment. Human errors, even if promptly discovered and remediated, may disrupt operations or result in regulatory fines or sanctions, breach of client contracts, reputational harm or legal liability, which, in turn, may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Failure to maintain and properly safeguard an adequate technology infrastructure and to protect against cyber‑attacks may limit our growth, result in losses or disrupt our business.

Our business is reliant upon financial, accounting and technology systems and networks to process, transmit and store information, including sensitive client and proprietary information, and to conduct many business activities and transactions with clients, advisers, vendors and other third parties. The failure to implement, maintain and safeguard an infrastructure commensurate with the size and scope of our business could impede our productivity and growth, which could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition. Further, we rely heavily on third parties for

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certain aspects of our business, including financial intermediaries and technology infrastructure and service providers, and these parties are also susceptible to similar risks.

Although we and our partner firms take protective measures and endeavor to modify them as circumstances warrant, our computer systems, software, networks and mobile devices, and those of third parties on whom we rely, have been subject to and may in the future be vulnerable to cyber‑attacks, breaches, unauthorized access, theft, including wire and check fraud, misuse, computer viruses or other malicious code and other events that could have a security impact. Further, our back‑up procedures, cyber defenses and capabilities in the event of a failure, interruption or breach of security may not be adequate. If any such events occur, it could jeopardize our, as well as our clients’, employees’ or counterparties’ confidential, proprietary and other sensitive information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our or third‑party computer systems, networks and mobile devices or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our, as well as our clients’, employees’ or counterparties’ operations. Despite our efforts to ensure the integrity of our systems and networks, it is possible that we may not be able to anticipate or to implement effective preventive measures against all threats, especially because the techniques used change frequently and can originate from a wide variety of sources. As a result, we could experience business disruptions, significant losses, increased costs, reputational harm, regulatory actions or legal liability, any of which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. We may in the future be required to spend significant additional resources to modify existing protective measures or to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities or other exposures, including hiring third‑party technology service providers and additional information technology staff. Additionally, we may be subject to litigation and financial losses that are either not insured against fully or not fully covered through any insurance that we maintain.

Our inability to successfully recover from a disaster or other business continuity problem could cause material financial loss, regulatory actions, reputational harm or legal liability.

Should we experience a local or regional disaster or other business continuity problem, such as a terrorist attack, pandemic, security breach, power loss, telecommunications failure, earthquake, hurricane or other natural or man‑made disaster, our continued success will depend, in part, on the availability of personnel and office facilities, and the proper functioning of computer, telecommunication and other related systems and operations. Further, we could potentially lose client data or experience adverse interruptions to our operations or delivery of services to clients in a disaster recovery scenario, which could result in material financial loss, regulatory action, reputational harm or legal liability.

The failure of a key vendor to Focus or its partner firms to fulfill its obligations or a failure by Focus or its partner firms to maintain its relationships with key vendors could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.

Focus and its partner firms depend on a number of key vendors for various accounting, custody, brokerage and trading, software and technology systems and other operational needs. Moreover, while Focus and its partner firms perform diligence on its vendors in an effort to ensure they operate in accordance with expectations, to the extent any significant deficiencies are uncovered, there may be few, or no, alternative vendors available. In addition, Focus or its partner firms may from time to time transfer key contracts from one vendor to another.  Key contract transfers may be costly and complex, and expose Focus or its partner firms to heightened operational risks. Any failure to mitigate such risks could result in reputational harm, as well as financial losses to Focus or its partner firms. The failure or inability of Focus or its partner firms to diversify its sources for key services or the failure of any key vendor to fulfill its obligations could have an adverse financial impact on Focus or its partner firms or lead to operational and regulatory issues for  partner firms, which could result in reputational harm or legal liability, fines and/or sanctions and may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.

Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.

We maintain voluntary and required insurance coverage, including, among others, general liability, property, director and officer, errors and omissions, network security and privacy, fidelity bond and fiduciary liability insurance, and insurance required under ERISA. While we endeavor to purchase coverage that is appropriate to our assessment of

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our risk, we are unable to predict with certainty the frequency, nature or magnitude of claims for direct or consequential damages. Our business may be negatively affected if in the future our insurance proves to be inadequate or unavailable. In addition, insurance claims may harm our reputation or divert management resources away from operating our business.

If our system of internal controls has flaws, weaknesses or otherwise is not effective, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, current and potential shareholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our Class A common stock.

Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports, prevent fraud and operate successfully as a public company. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our reputation and operating results would be harmed. We cannot be certain that our efforts to develop and maintain our internal controls will be successful, that we will be able to maintain adequate controls over our financial processes and reporting in the future or that we will be able to comply with our obligations under Section 404 of the Sarbanes‑Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes‑Oxley Act”). For example, Section 404 requires us, among other things, to annually review and report on, and our independent registered public accounting firm to attest to, the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. Any failure to develop or maintain effective internal controls, or difficulties encountered in implementing or improving our internal controls, could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. Ineffective internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which would likely have a negative effect on the trading price of our Class A common stock.

Risks Related to Our Partnership Model and Growth Strategy

Our success depends, in part, on our ability to make successful acquisitions.

Our continued success will depend, in part, upon our ability to find suitable firms to acquire, either directly or on behalf of our existing partner firms, our ability to acquire such firms on acceptable terms and our ability to raise the capital necessary to finance such transactions. We compete with banks, outsourced service providers, private equity firms and other wealth management and advisory firms to acquire high‑quality wealth management firms. Some of our competitors may be able to outbid us for these acquisition targets. If we identify suitable acquisition targets, we may not be able to complete any such acquisition on terms that are commercially acceptable to us. If we are not successful in acquiring suitable acquisition candidates, it may have an adverse effect on our business and on our earnings and revenue growth.

Acquired businesses may not perform as expected, leading to an adverse effect on our earnings and revenue growth.

Acquisitions involve a number of risks, including the following, any of which could have an adverse effect on our partner firms’ and our earnings and revenue growth: (i) incurring costs in excess of, or achieving synergies less than, what we anticipated; (ii) potential loss of key wealth management professionals or other team members of the predecessor firm; (iii) inability to generate sufficient revenue to offset transaction costs; (iv) inability to retain clients following an acquisition; (v) incurring expenses associated with the amortization or impairment of intangible assets, particularly for goodwill and other intangible assets; and (vi) payment of more than fair market value for the assets of the partner firm.

While we intend that our completed acquisitions will improve profitability, past or future acquisitions may not be accretive to earnings or otherwise meet operational or strategic expectations. The failure of any partner firm to perform as expected after acquisition may have an adverse effect on our earnings and revenue growth.

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Contingent consideration payments could result in a higher than expected impact on our future earnings.

We have typically incorporated into our acquisition structure contingent consideration paid to the sellers upon the achievement of specified financial thresholds. The contingent consideration for acquisitions of new partner firms is paid upon the satisfaction of specified growth thresholds typically over a six‑year period. The contingent consideration for acquisitions made by our partner firms is paid upon the satisfaction of specified financial thresholds, typically annual thresholds, tied to revenue as adjusted for certain criteria or other operating metrics based on the retention or growth of the business acquired. These arrangements may result in the payment of additional purchase price consideration to the sellers for periods following the closing of an acquisition. We anticipate that future acquisitions will continue to include contingent consideration. For business acquisitions, we recognize the fair value of estimated contingent consideration at the acquisition date and contingent consideration is remeasured to fair value at each reporting period until the contingency is resolved. Since the contingent consideration to be paid is based on the growth of forecasted financial performance levels over a number of years, we cannot calculate the maximum contingent consideration that may be payable under these arrangements. Contingent consideration could result in a higher than expected impact on our future earnings and payments may occur in periods subsequent to the periods in which the additional earnings or other specified financial thresholds are achieved.

We may incur debt, issue additional equity or use cash on hand to pay for future acquisitions, each of which could adversely affect our financial condition or the market price of our Class A common stock. Additionally, difficulty in obtaining debt, issuing equity or generating cash flow could affect our growth and financial condition and the market price of our Class A common stock.

We will finance future acquisitions through debt financing, including significant draws on our first lien revolving credit facility (the “First Lien Revolver”), issuance of additional term debt, the issuance of equity securities, the use of existing cash or cash equivalents or any combination of the foregoing. Acquisitions financed with debt could require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow to principal and interest payments. Acquisitions financed with the issuance of our equity securities would be dilutive to the share value and voting power of our existing Class A common stock, which could affect the market price of our Class A common stock. Future acquisitions financed with our own cash could deplete the cash and working capital available to fund our operations adequately. Difficulty borrowing funds, selling securities or generating sufficient cash from operations to finance our activities may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Our growth strategy depends, in part, upon continued growth from our existing partner firms. However, the significant growth we have experienced may be difficult to sustain in the future.

The continued growth of our business will depend on, among other things, the ability of our partner firms to grow through acquisitions, to retain key wealth management professionals and to devote sufficient resources to maintaining existing client relationships and developing new client relationships. Our business growth will also depend on their success in providing high‑quality wealth management services, as well as their ability to deal with changing market conditions, to maintain adequate financial and business controls and to comply with new regulatory requirements arising in response to both the increased sophistication of the wealth management industry and the significant market and economic events of the last few years. In the future, our partner firms may not contribute to our growth at their historical or currently anticipated levels.

Our acquisition due diligence process may not reveal all facts that are relevant in connection with an acquisition, which could subject us to unknown liabilities.

In connection with our acquisitions of new partner firms and acquisitions by existing partner firms, we conduct due diligence that we deem reasonable and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances applicable to such transactions and expect to use our resources to enhance the risk management functions and diligence of our business and our partner firms’ businesses going forward. When conducting due diligence, we evaluate important and complex business, financial, tax, accounting, legal and compliance issues. Outside consultants, legal advisers, accountants, regulatory experts and other third parties may be involved in the due diligence process in varying degrees depending on the type, size and complexity of the acquisition. When conducting due diligence and making an assessment regarding a

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transaction, we have and will continue to rely on the resources available to us, including information provided by third parties. Our diligence efforts with respect to RIAs that were newly formed in connection with our Focus Independence program may be limited due to the short operating history of such firms.

Since commencing acquisition activities in 2006, there were certain instances where we discovered matters about acquired partner firms that were not uncovered during the due diligence process. These instances did not have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows. Our acquisition agreements include standard sellers’ representations and warranties and indemnification provisions that provide us with some financial protection in the event of an undiscovered or undisclosed matter. However, the due diligence investigations that we have carried out or will carry out with respect to any transaction may not reveal or highlight all relevant facts that may be necessary or helpful in evaluating the transaction, which could subject us or our partner firms to unknown liabilities or reputational harm that could adversely affect our or our partner firms’ results of operations and financial condition.

The success of Focus Independence depends upon our ability to lift out teams of wealth management professionals from traditional brokerages and wirehouses.

Our ability to lift out teams of wealth management professionals from traditional brokerages and wirehouses depends on our ability to offer more favorable opportunities than those provided by their current employers, many of which have substantially greater financial resources and may be able to entice their employees to stay. If we are not successful in attracting and lifting out suitable wealth management professionals for our Focus Independence program, it may have an adverse effect on the growth of our revenues and earnings.

We may face operational risks associated with expanding internationally.

Our business strategy includes expanding our presence in non‑U.S. markets through acquisitions. This strategy presents a number of risks, including: (i) greater difficulties in supporting, or the need to hire additional personnel to support, the operations of foreign partner firms, (ii) language and cultural differences, (iii) unfavorable fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, (iv) higher operating costs, (v) unexpected changes in wealth management policies and other regulatory requirements, (vi) adverse tax consequences and (vii) more complex acquisition structures. If our international business increases relative to our total business, these factors could have a more pronounced effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Risks Related to Our Business Model and Key Professionals

Our partner firms’ autonomy limits our ability to alter their management practices and policies, and our dependence on the principals who manage the businesses of our partner firms may have an adverse effect on our business.

Under the management agreements between our partner firms and the new management companies formed by the principals, the management companies provide the personnel who manage the partner firm’s day‑to‑day operations and oversee the provision of wealth management services, the implementation of employment policies, the negotiation, execution and delivery of contracts in connection with the management and operation of the partner firm’s business in the ordinary course and the implementation of policies and procedures to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. Such individuals also maintain the primary relationships with clients and vendors. As a consequence, we are exposed to losses resulting from day‑to‑day decisions of the principals who manage our partner firm, and our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by problems stemming from the day‑to‑day operations of a partner firm, where weaknesses or failures in internal processes or systems could lead to a disruption of the partner firm’s operations, liability to its clients or exposure to disciplinary action. Unsatisfactory performance by the principals could also hinder the partner firms’ ability to grow and could have an adverse effect on our business. Further, there is a risk of reputational harm to us if any of our partner firms, among other things, have engaged in, or in the future were to engage in, poor or non‑compliant business practices or were to experience adverse results.

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We rely on our key personnel and principals.

We depend on the efforts of our executive officers, other management team members, employees and principals. Our executive officers, in particular, play an important role in the stability and growth of our business, including the growth and stability of existing partner firms and in identifying potential acquisition opportunities for us. However, there is no guarantee that these officers will remain with us. In addition, our partner firms depend heavily on the services of key principals, who in many cases have managed their predecessor firms for many years. Although we use a combination of economic incentives, transfer restrictions and non‑solicitation and non‑competition agreements in an effort to retain key management personnel, there is no guarantee that these principals will remain with the respective partner firms. The loss of key management personnel at our partner firms could have an adverse impact on our business.

In addition, compliance with public company requirements places significant additional demands on our senior management and has required us, and will continue to require us, to enhance our investor relations, legal, financial reporting, corporate communications and certain other functions. These additional efforts may strain our resources and divert management’s attention from other business concerns, which could adversely affect our business.

If a management company terminates its management agreement with us, our financial condition and results could be negatively affected.

At the time of the acquisition of a partner firm, we enter into a management agreement with the management company that is substantially owned by the selling principals. Pursuant to the management agreement, the management company provides the personnel who conduct the day‑to‑day management and operation of the partner firm. These management agreements can be terminated by the management company at the end of the initial term, which is typically six years. Termination of a management agreement could lead to a disruption of the partner firm’s operations, which could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.

If our partner firms are unable to maintain their client‑oriented, fiduciary‑minded culture or compensation levels for wealth management professionals, they may be unable to attract, develop and retain talented wealth management professionals, which could negatively impact our financial results and our ability to grow.

Attracting, developing and retaining talented wealth management professionals are essential components of the business strategy of our partner firms. To do so, it is critical that they continue to foster an environment and provide compensation that is attractive for their existing and prospective wealth management professionals. If they are unsuccessful in maintaining such an environment (for instance, because of changes in management structure, corporate culture or corporate governance arrangements) or compensation levels for any reason, their existing wealth management professionals may leave the firm or fail to produce their best work on a consistent, long‑term basis and/or our partner firms may be unsuccessful in attracting talented new wealth management professionals, any of which could negatively impact their financial results and our ability to grow and may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Risks Related to Our Structure

Focus Inc. is a holding company. Focus Inc.’s most significant asset is its equity interest in Focus LLC, and Focus Inc. is accordingly dependent upon distributions from Focus LLC to pay taxes, make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements and cover its corporate and other overhead expenses.

Focus Inc. is a holding company and its most significant asset is its equity interest in Focus LLC. Focus Inc. has no independent means of generating revenue. To the extent Focus LLC has available cash and subject to the terms of Focus LLC’s credit agreements and any other debt instruments, we have caused and intend to continue to cause Focus LLC to make (i) generally pro rata distributions to its unitholders, including Focus Inc., in an amount generally intended to allow the Focus LLC unitholders to satisfy their respective income tax liabilities with respect to their allocable share of the income of Focus LLC, based on certain assumptions and conventions, provided that the distribution will be sufficient to allow Focus Inc. to satisfy its actual tax liabilities and to make payments under its two Tax Receivable Agreements, entered into on July 30, 2018 in connection with the closing of the IPO (the “Tax

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Receivable Agreements”), one with certain entities affiliated with our private equity investors and the other with certain other continuing and former owners of Focus LLC (the parties to the two agreements collectively, the “TRA holders”), and any subsequent tax receivable agreements that it may enter into in connection with future acquisitions by Focus LLC or issuances of units of Focus LLC to employees, principals and directors and (ii) non pro rata distributions to Focus Inc. in an amount at least sufficient to reimburse Focus Inc. for its corporate and other overhead expenses. We are limited, however, in our ability to cause Focus LLC and its subsidiaries to make these and other distributions to Focus Inc. due to the restrictions under our credit facilities entered into in July 2017, as amended (collectively, the “Credit Facility”). To the extent that Focus Inc. needs funds and Focus LLC or its subsidiaries are restricted from making such distributions under applicable law or regulation or under the terms of their financing arrangements or are otherwise unable to provide such funds, Focus Inc.’s liquidity and financial condition could be adversely affected.

Focus Inc. is required to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements for certain tax benefits it may claim, and the amounts of such payments could be significant.

The Tax Receivable Agreements generally provide for the payment by Focus Inc. to each TRA holder of 85% of the net cash savings, if any, in U.S. federal, state and local income and franchise tax that Focus Inc. actually realizes (computed using simplifying assumptions to address the impact of state and local taxes) or is deemed to realize in certain circumstances in periods after the IPO as a result of certain increases in tax basis and certain tax benefits attributable to imputed interest. We will retain the benefit of the remaining 15% of these cash savings.

The term of each Tax Receivable Agreement commenced upon the completion of the IPO will continue until all tax benefits that are subject to such Tax Receivable Agreement have been utilized or expired, unless we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreements, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations) or the Tax Receivable Agreements terminate early (at our election or as a result of our breach), and Focus Inc. makes the termination payments specified in the Tax Receivable Agreements. In addition, payments made under the Tax Receivable Agreements will be increased by any interest accrued from the due date (without extensions) of the corresponding tax return.

The payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreements are Focus Inc.’s obligations and not obligations of Focus LLC, and we expect that such payments required to be made under the Tax Receivable Agreements will be substantial. Estimating the amount and timing of payments that may become due under the Tax Receivable Agreements is by its nature imprecise. For purposes of the Tax Receivable Agreements, cash savings in tax generally are calculated by comparing Focus Inc.’s actual tax liability (determined by using the actual applicable U.S. federal income tax rate and an assumed combined state and local income and franchise tax rate) to the amount Focus Inc. would have been required to pay had it not been able to utilize any of the tax benefits subject to the Tax Receivable Agreements. The actual increases in tax basis, as well as the amount and timing of any payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements, will vary depending upon a number of factors, including the timing of any redemption of Focus LLC units, the price of our Class A common stock at the time of each redemption, the extent to which such redemptions are taxable transactions, the amount of Focus LLC’s assets that consist of equity in entities taxed as corporations at the time of each redemption, the amount and timing of the taxable income we generate in the future, the U.S. federal income tax rates then applicable, and the portion of the payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements that constitute imputed interest or give rise to depreciable or amortizable tax basis.

The payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements will not be conditioned upon a TRA holder having a continued ownership interest in Focus Inc. or Focus LLC. Please read “Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Tax Receivable Agreements.”

In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, realized in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreements.

If we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreements, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations) or the Tax Receivable Agreements terminate early (at our election or as a result of our breach), Focus Inc. could be required to make a substantial, immediate lump‑sum payment.

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This payment would equal the present value of hypothetical future payments that could be required to be paid under the Tax Receivable Agreements (determined by applying a discount rate of one‑year London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) plus 1.5%). The calculation of hypothetical future payments will be based upon certain assumptions and deemed events set forth in the Tax Receivable Agreements, including (i) that Focus Inc. has sufficient taxable income to fully utilize the tax benefits covered by the Tax Receivable Agreements and (ii) any Focus LLC units (other than those held by Focus Inc.) outstanding on the termination date are deemed to be redeemed on the termination date. Any early termination payments may be made significantly in advance of, and may materially exceed, the actual realization, if any, of the future tax benefits to which the termination payments relate.

If we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreements) or the Tax Receivable Agreements otherwise terminate early, Focus Inc.’s obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreements could have a substantial negative impact on our liquidity and could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing certain mergers, asset sales or other forms of business combinations or changes of control. For example, if the Tax Receivable Agreements were terminated immediately at December 31, 2019, the estimated termination payments would, in the aggregate, be approximately $198.7 million (calculated using a discount rate equal to one‑year LIBOR plus 1.5%, applied against an undiscounted liability of $277.1 million); this amount could be substantially larger if Focus Inc. enters into additional tax receivable agreements in connection with future acquisitions by Focus LLC or issuances of units of Focus LLC to employees, principals and directors . The foregoing amounts are merely estimates and the actual payments could differ materially. There can be no assurance that we will be able to finance any payments required to be made under the Tax Receivable Agreements.

Please read “Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Tax Receivable Agreements.”

In the event that payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreements are accelerated upon certain mergers, other forms of business combinations or other changes of control, the consideration payable to holders of our Class A common stock could be substantially reduced.

If we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreements, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations), Focus Inc. would be obligated to make a substantial, immediate lump‑sum payment, and such payment may be significantly in advance of, and may materially exceed, the actual realization, if any, of the future tax benefits to which the payment relates. As a result of this payment obligation, holders of our Class A common stock could receive substantially less consideration in connection with a change of control transaction than they would receive in the absence of such obligation. Further, any payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreements will not be conditioned upon the TRA holders’ having a continued interest in Focus Inc. or Focus LLC. Accordingly, the TRA holders’ interests may conflict with those of the holders of our Class A common stock. Please read “—In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, realized in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreements.” and “Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Tax Receivable Agreements.”

We will not be reimbursed for any payments made under the Tax Receivable Agreements in the event that any tax benefits are subsequently disallowed.

Payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements will be based on the tax reporting positions that we will determine. The TRA holders will not reimburse us for any payments previously made under the Tax Receivable Agreements if any tax benefits that have given rise to payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements are subsequently disallowed, except that excess payments made to any TRA holder will be netted against payments that would otherwise be made to such TRA holder, if any, after our determination of such excess. As a result, in such circumstances, we could make payments that are greater than our actual cash tax savings, if any, and may not be able to recoup those payments, which could adversely affect our liquidity.

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If Focus LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, significant tax inefficiencies might result, and Focus Inc. would not be able to recover payments previously made by it under the Tax Receivable Agreements even if the corresponding tax benefits were subsequently determined to have been unavailable due to such status.

A number of aspects of our structure depend on the classification of Focus LLC as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Subject to certain exceptions relating to the receipt of predominantly qualifying income for which we do not expect to qualify, a “publicly traded partnership” is taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The U.S. Treasury regulations provide that a “publicly traded partnership” is a partnership the interests of which are traded on an established securities market or are readily tradable on a secondary market or the substantial equivalent thereof. Under certain circumstances, exchanges of Focus LLC units pursuant to an exchange right (or the call right) or other transfers of Focus LLC units could cause Focus LLC to be treated as a publicly traded partnership. The U.S. Treasury regulations provide for certain safe harbors from treatment as a publicly traded partnership, and we intend to operate such that exchanges or other transfers of Focus LLC units qualify for one or more such safe harbors. For example, we intend to limit the number of unitholders of Focus LLC, and the Fourth Amended and Restated Operating Agreement of Focus LLC, as amended, (the “Fourth Amended and Restated Focus LLC Agreement”) provides for limitations on the ability of unitholders of Focus LLC to transfer their Focus LLC units and provides us, as managing member of Focus LLC, with the right to impose limitations and restrictions (in addition to those already in place), subject to certain consent rights, on the ability of unitholders of Focus LLC to exchange their Focus LLC units pursuant to an exchange right to the extent we believe it is necessary to ensure that Focus LLC will continue to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

If Focus LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership, significant tax inefficiencies might result, including as a result of Focus Inc.’s inability to file a consolidated U.S. federal income tax return with Focus LLC. In addition, Focus Inc. would no longer have the benefit of the increases in tax basis covered under the Tax Receivable Agreements, and Focus Inc. would not be able to recover any payments previously made under the Tax Receivable Agreements, even if the corresponding tax benefits (including any claimed increase in the tax basis of Focus LLC’s assets) were subsequently determined to have been unavailable.

In certain circumstances, Focus LLC will be required to make tax distributions to the Focus LLC unitholders, including Focus Inc., and the tax distributions that Focus LLC will be required to make may be substantial. To the extent Focus Inc. receives tax distributions in excess of its tax liabilities and obligations to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements and retains such excess cash, the unitholders of Focus LLC would benefit from such accumulated cash balances if they exercise their exchange right.

Pursuant to the Fourth Amended and Restated Focus LLC Agreement, Focus LLC will make generally pro rata cash distributions, or tax distributions, to the Focus LLC unitholders, including Focus Inc., in an amount generally intended to allow the Focus LLC unitholders to satisfy their respective income tax liabilities with respect to their allocable share of the income of Focus LLC, based on certain assumptions and conventions, provided that the distribution will be sufficient to allow Focus Inc. to satisfy its actual tax liabilities and to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements and any subsequent tax receivable agreements that it may enter into in connection with future acquisitions by Focus LLC or issuances of units of Focus LLC to employees, principals and directors. Under applicable tax rules, Focus LLC is required to allocate net taxable income disproportionately to its members in certain circumstances. Because tax distributions will be made pro rata based on ownership and based on an assumed tax rate, Focus LLC will be required to make tax distributions that, in the aggregate, will likely exceed the amount of taxes that Focus LLC would have paid if it were taxed on its net income at the assumed rate. The pro rata distribution amounts will also be increased to the extent necessary, if any, to ensure that the amount distributed to Focus Inc. is sufficient to enable Focus Inc. to pay its actual tax liabilities and any amounts payable under the Tax Receivable Agreements.

Funds used by Focus LLC to satisfy its tax distribution obligations will not be available for reinvestment in our business. Moreover, the tax distributions Focus LLC will be required to make may be substantial, and may exceed (as a percentage of Focus LLC’s income) the overall effective tax rate applicable to a similarly situated corporate taxpayer. In addition, because these payments will be calculated with reference to an assumed tax rate, and because of the

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disproportionate allocation of net taxable income, these payments may significantly exceed the actual tax liability for many of the Focus LLC unitholders.

As a result of potential differences in the amount of net taxable income allocable to Focus Inc. and to the other Focus LLC unitholders, as well as the use of an assumed tax rate in calculating Focus LLC’s tax distribution obligations, Focus Inc. may receive distributions significantly in excess of its tax liabilities and obligations to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreements. If Focus Inc. retains such cash balances, the unitholders of Focus LLC would benefit from any value attributable to such accumulated cash balances as a result of their exercise of an exchange right. Focus Inc. intends to take steps to eliminate any material cash balances. Such steps could include distributing such cash balances as dividends on our Class A common stock, reinvesting such cash balances in Focus LLC for additional Focus LLC units (with an accompanying stock dividend with respect to our Class A common stock), and using such cash balances to effect buybacks of shares of our Class A common stock (with an accompanying conversion rate adjustment with respect to the exchange right).

Risks Related to Financing and Liquidity

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under applicable debt instruments, which may not be successful.

At December 31, 2019, we had outstanding borrowings under the Credit Facility of approximately $1.3 billion at stated value. Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our indebtedness, including the Credit Facility, depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which are subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may not be able to maintain a level of cash flow from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal and interest on our indebtedness.

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay acquisitions or partner firm‑level acquisitions and capital expenditures, sell assets, seek additional capital or restructure or refinance indebtedness. Our ability to restructure or refinance indebtedness will depend on the condition of the capital markets and our financial condition at such time. Any refinancing of indebtedness could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict business operations. The terms of existing or future debt instruments may restrict us from adopting some of these alternatives. In addition, any failure to make payments of interest and principal on outstanding indebtedness on a timely basis could harm our ability to incur additional indebtedness. In the absence of sufficient cash flows and capital resources, we could face substantial liquidity problems and might be required to dispose of material assets or operations to meet debt service and other obligations. The Credit Facility currently restricts our ability to dispose of assets and our use of the proceeds from such disposition. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions, and the proceeds of any such disposition may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due. These alternative measures may not be successful and may not permit us to meet scheduled debt service obligations.

Our outstanding variable rate indebtedness uses LIBOR as a benchmark for establishing the interest rate. LIBOR is expected to be replaced by an alternative in 2021. While we expect any such alternative to be a reasonable replacement for LIBOR, at this time we cannot predict the implications of the use of such a new benchmark on the interest rates we pay.

Restrictions in our existing and future debt agreements could limit our growth and our ability to engage in certain activities.

The Credit Facility contains a number of customary covenants, including (i) incurring additional indebtedness or guarantees, (ii) creating liens or other encumbrances on property or granting negative pledges, (iii) entering into a merger or similar transaction, (iv) selling or transferring certain property and (v) declaring dividends or making other restricted payments.

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In addition, the Credit Facility requires us to maintain certain financial ratios. These restrictions may also limit our ability to obtain future financings, to withstand a future downturn in our business or the economy in general, or to otherwise conduct necessary corporate activities. We may also be prevented from taking advantage of acquisitions or other business opportunities that arise because of the limitations that the restrictive covenants under the Credit Facility impose on us.

A breach of any covenant in the Credit Facility would result in a default under the applicable agreement after any applicable grace periods. A default, if not waived, could result in acceleration of the indebtedness outstanding under the Credit Facility. The accelerated indebtedness would become immediately due and payable. If that occurs, we may not be able to make all of the required payments or borrow on short notice sufficient funds to refinance such indebtedness. Even if new financing were available at that time, it may not be on terms that are acceptable to us.

Lack of liquidity or access to capital could impair our business and financial condition.

Liquidity, or ready access to funds, is essential to our business. We expend significant resources investing in our business, particularly with respect to acquisition activity. As a result, reduced levels of liquidity could have a significant negative effect on us and our partner firms. Some potential conditions that could negatively affect our liquidity or that of our partner firms include: (i) illiquid or volatile markets, (ii) diminished access to debt or capital markets, (iii) unforeseen cash or capital requirements or (iv) regulatory penalties or fines or adverse legal settlements or judgments.

The capital and credit markets continue to experience varying degrees of volatility and disruption. In some cases, the markets have exerted downward pressure on availability of liquidity and credit capacity. Without sufficient liquidity, we could be required to curtail our operations.

In the event current resources are insufficient to satisfy our needs or the needs of our partner firms, we may need to rely on financing sources such as bank debt. The availability of additional financing will depend on a variety of factors such as: (i) market conditions, (ii) the general availability of credit, including the availability of credit to the financial services industry, (iii) our credit ratings and credit capacity and (iv) the possibility that lenders could develop a negative perception of our or their long‑ or short‑term financial prospects if the level of business activity decreases due to a market downturn. Similarly, our access to funds may be impaired if regulatory authorities or rating organizations take negative actions against us or our partner firms.

Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the capital and credit markets may also limit our access to capital required to operate our businesses. Such market conditions may limit our ability to generate revenue to meet liquidity needs and access the capital necessary to grow our business. As such, we may be forced to delay raising capital, issue different types of capital than we would otherwise, less effectively deploy such capital or bear an unattractive cost of capital, which could decrease our profitability and significantly reduce our financial flexibility.

Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation

Our business is highly regulated.

Our partner firms are subject to extensive regulation by various regulatory and self‑regulatory authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. In the United States, our partner firms are subject to regulation primarily at the federal level, including regulation by the SEC under the Advisers Act, by the DOL under ERISA, regulation of broker‑dealers by the SEC and FINRA, state insurance regulations and state securities regulation. As a publicly traded company with listed equity securities, we are subject to the rules and regulations of the SEC and The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (“NASDAQ”).

Providing investment advice to clients is regulated on both the federal and state level in the United States. Our partner firms are predominantly investment advisers registered with the SEC under the Advisers Act. Each firm that is a federally registered investment adviser is regulated and subject to examination by the SEC. The Advisers Act imposes numerous obligations on RIAs, including fiduciary duties, disclosure obligations, recordkeeping and reporting

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requirements, marketing restrictions and general anti‑fraud prohibitions. The failure to comply with the Advisers Act could cause the SEC to institute proceedings and impose sanctions for violations, including censure or terminating their SEC registrations and could also result in litigation or reputational harm. In addition, our partner firms who are investment advisers are subject to notice filings and the anti‑fraud rules of state securities regulators and individual advisers are subject to state registration in many instances under applicable state securities laws.

Our partner firms are also subject to regulation by the DOL under ERISA and related regulations with respect to investment advisory and management services provided to retirement plans and plan participants covered by ERISA and by the IRS with respect to IRAs pursuant to comparable provisions within the IRC. Among other requirements, ERISA and the IRC impose duties on persons who are fiduciaries under ERISA and the IRC, respectively, and prohibits certain transactions involving related parties.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has also issued regulations requiring that we and our partner firms refrain from doing business in certain countries or with certain organizations or individuals on a list maintained by the U.S. government. Our partner firms rely on custodians to ensure compliance with OFAC regulation. A partner firm’s failure to comply with applicable laws or regulations could result in fines, censure, suspension of personnel or other sanctions, including revocation of the registration of the partner firm as an RIA.

Many of our partner firms also rely on exemptions from various requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), the Exchange Act and ERISA (and parallel provisions of the IRC for IRAs). If for any reason these exemptions were to be revoked or challenged or otherwise become unavailable to us, our partner firms could be subject to regulatory action or third‑party claims, and our business could be materially and adversely affected. To the extent any of our partner firms manage investment vehicles, those partner firms could also be subject to additional disclosure and compliance requirements, or in the case of some compliance violations, be prevented from managing such investment vehicles. These laws and regulations impose requirements, restrictions and limitations on our business, and compliance with these laws and regulations results in significant cost and expense. If our partner firms were to fail to comply with applicable laws, rules or regulations or be named as a subject of an investigation or other regulatory action, the public announcement and potential publicity surrounding any such investigation or action could have an adverse effect on our stock price and result in increased costs even if our partner firms were found not to have violated such laws, rules or regulations. The failure of our partner firms to satisfy regulatory requirements could also result in the partner firms or us being subjected to civil liability, criminal liability or other sanctions that might materially impact our business.

Certain of our partner firms have affiliated SEC‑registered broker‑dealers. Broker‑dealers and their personnel are regulated, to a large extent, by the SEC and self‑regulatory organizations, principally FINRA. Broker‑dealers are subject to regulations which cover all aspects of the securities business, including sales practices, trading practices among broker‑dealers, use and safekeeping of clients’ funds and securities, capital structure, recordkeeping and the conduct of directors, officers, employees and representatives. Continued efforts by market regulators to increase transparency by requiring the disclosure of conflicts of interest have affected, and could continue to impact, our partner firms’ disclosures and our business.

Certain of our partner firms have licensed insurance affiliates. State insurance laws grant supervisory agencies, including state insurance departments, broad administrative authority. State insurance regulators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners continually review existing laws and regulations, some of which affect certain partner firms who engage in the sale of insurance products through affiliated or unaffiliated entities. These supervisory agencies regulate many aspects of the insurance business, including the licensing of insurance brokers and agents and other insurance intermediaries, and trade practices, such as marketing, advertising and compensation arrangements entered into by insurance brokers and agents.

Additionally, we and our partner firms are subject to various data privacy and cybersecurity laws designed to protect client and employee personally identifiable information. These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number which has resulted in greater compliance risk and cost for us. The unauthorized access, use, theft or destruction of client or employee personal, financial or other data could expose us to potential financial penalties and legal liability.

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Our international operations are subject to additional non‑U.S. regulatory requirements.

We have partner firms located in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. We may have partner firms located in other non‑U.S. jurisdictions in the future. Failure to comply with the applicable laws, rules, regulations, codes, directives, notices or guidelines in any jurisdiction outside of the United States could result in a wide range of penalties and disciplinary actions, including fines, censures and the suspension or expulsion from a particular jurisdiction or market or the revocation of licenses, any of which could adversely affect our reputation and operations and our partner firms in those jurisdictions. Regulators in jurisdictions outside of the United States could also change their policies or laws in a manner that might restrict or otherwise impede the ability of such partner firms to offer wealth management services in their respective markets, or they may be unable to keep up with, or adapt to, changing, complex regulatory requirements in such jurisdictions or markets, which could further negatively impact our business.

In the future, we may further expand our business outside of the markets in which we currently operate in such a way or to such an extent that we may be required to register with additional foreign regulatory agencies or otherwise comply with additional non‑U.S. laws and regulations that do not currently apply to us. Lack of compliance with any such non‑U.S. laws and regulations may increase our risk of becoming party to litigation and subject to regulatory actions. We are also subject to the enhanced risk that our differentiated partnership model might not be enforceable in some non‑U.S. jurisdictions.

We and our partner firms are subject to anticorruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), the U.K. Bribery Act (the “Bribery Act”) and the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (the “CFPOA”). Certain of our partner firms are also subject to anti‑money laundering (“AML”) laws in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and may be subject to other anti‑corruption laws and AML laws, as well as sanctions laws and other laws governing our and our partner firms’ operations, to the extent our business expands to other non‑U.S. jurisdictions. If our partner firms fail to comply with these laws, they and we could be subject to civil or criminal penalties, other remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

We continue to pursue investment opportunities outside of the United States. We and our partner firms are currently subject to anti‑corruption laws, including the FCPA, the Bribery Act and the CFPOA. To the extent we expand our international operations to other non‑U.S. jurisdictions, our prospective partner firms may be subject to additional anti‑corruption laws that apply in countries where they are doing business. The FCPA, the Bribery Act, the CFPOA and other applicable anti‑corruption laws generally prohibit our partner firms, employees and intermediaries from bribing, being bribed or making other prohibited payments to government officials or other persons to obtain or retain business or gain some other business advantage. Our partner firms may also participate in collaborations and relationships with third parties whose actions could potentially subject them to liability under the FCPA, the Bribery Act, the CFPOA or other jurisdictions’ anti‑corruption laws. In addition, we and our partner firms cannot predict the nature, scope or effect of future regulatory requirements to which their internal operations might be subject or the manner in which existing laws might be administered or interpreted.

Our partner firms that are SEC‑registered broker‑dealers are also subject to AML laws and related compliance obligations under the USA PATRIOT Act and the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) that require that these partner firms maintain an AML compliance program covering certain of their business activities. While currently there are no comparable AML-related compliance obligations with respect to the activities of RIAs, there have been proposals that, if adopted, would subject our partner firms that are RIAs to the requirements of the BSA. Our partner firms that conduct business in non‑U.S. jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, are also subject to specific AML and counter terrorist financing requirements that require them to develop and maintain AML and counter terrorist financing policies and procedures.

There is no assurance that we will be completely effective in ensuring our partner firms’ compliance with all applicable anti‑corruption laws, including the FCPA, the Bribery Act and the CFPOA and AML laws in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. If we or our partner firms are not in compliance with the FCPA, the Bribery Act, the CFPOA or other anti‑corruption laws or AML laws, they may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other sanctions and remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could have an adverse impact on

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our results of operations and financial condition. Likewise, any investigation of any potential violations of the FCPA, the Bribery Act, the CFPOA or other anti‑corruption laws or AML laws by authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or other jurisdictions where we conduct business could also have an adverse impact on our reputation, results of operations and financial condition.

The regulatory environment in which our partner firms operate is subject to continuous change, and regulatory developments designed to increase oversight may adversely affect our business.

The legislative and regulatory environment in which our partner firms operate has undergone significant changes in the recent past, including additional filings with the SEC required by investment advisory firms, which have resulted in increased costs to us. Regulatory review or the issuance of interpretations of existing laws and regulations may result in the enactment of new laws and regulations that could adversely affect our operations or our ability to conduct business profitably. We are unable to predict whether any such laws or regulations will be enacted and to what extent such laws and regulations would affect our business.

As examples, in the United States, on June 5, 2019, the SEC proposed a package of rulemakings and interpretations that impose a best interest standard of conduct for broker‑dealers, require investment advisers and broker-dealers to deliver short form disclosure documents to retail investors and clarifies the SEC’s views on the fiduciary duty that investment advisers owe to their clients. On November 4, 2019, the SEC also proposed new rules regarding investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors.  In the United Kingdom, our partner firm became subject to the new Senior Managers and Certification Regime, which provides for additional firm and individual responsibilities and enhanced oversight by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority. Our business in the United Kingdom may also be impacted by financial services reform initiatives enacted or under consideration in the European Union or by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. In Australia, a Royal Commission issued a highly publicized report on February 1, 2019 following a 12‑month inquiry of misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. The report makes many recommendations that, if adopted into law or regulations, could impact our existing or any future Australian partner firms or investments. In December 2019, the Canadian Securities Administrators adopted amendments to National Instrument 31-103 and its related Companion Policy, which will impose new heightened requirements on our Canadian partner firms with respect to conflicts of interest, know your client, know your product and suitability obligations.  Additionally, we and our partner firms are subject to various state, federal and international data privacy and cybersecurity laws designed to protect client and employee personally identifiable information.  These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number. Compliance with these new laws and regulations may also result in increased compliance costs and expenses, and non‑compliance may result in fines, penalties and potentially civil litigation.

We believe that significant regulatory changes in the wealth management industry are likely to continue, which is likely to subject industry participants to additional, more costly and generally more detailed regulation. New laws or regulations, or changes in the enforcement of existing laws or regulations, applicable to our partner firms may adversely affect our business. Our continued ability to function in this environment will depend on our ability to monitor and promptly react to legislative and regulatory changes. Changes in laws or regulatory requirements, or the interpretation or application of such laws and regulatory requirements by regulatory authorities, can occur without notice and could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition.

Our business is subject to risks related to legal proceedings and governmental inquiries.

Our business is subject to litigation, regulatory investigations and claims arising in the normal course of operations. The risks associated with these matters often may be difficult to assess or quantify and the existence and magnitude of potential claims often remain unknown for substantial periods of time.

Our partner firms depend to a large extent on their network of relationships and on their reputation to attract and retain clients. The principals and other wealth management professionals at our partner firms make investment decisions on behalf of clients that could result in substantial losses. If clients suffer significant losses, or are otherwise dissatisfied with wealth management services, we could be subject to the risk of legal liabilities or actions alleging negligent misconduct, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and/or fraud. Moreover, our partner firms are predominantly RIAs and

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have a legal obligation to operate under the fiduciary standard, a heightened standard as compared to the standard of conduct applicable to broker‑dealers. These risks are often difficult to assess or quantify and their existence and magnitude often remain unknown for substantial periods of time, even after an action has been commenced.

Our involvement in any investigations and lawsuits would cause us to incur additional legal and other costs and, if we were found to have violated any laws, we could be required to pay fines, damages and other costs, perhaps in material amounts. Regardless of final costs, these matters could have an adverse effect on our business by exposing us to negative publicity, reputational damage, harm to our partner firms’ client relationships or diversion of personnel and management resources.

Principal or employee misconduct could expose us to significant legal liability and reputational harm.

We are vulnerable to reputational harm because our partner firms operate in an industry in which personal relationships, integrity and the confidence of clients are of critical importance. The principals and employees at our partner firms could engage in misconduct that adversely affects our business. For example, if a principal or employee were to engage in illegal or suspicious activities, a partner firm could be subject to regulatory sanctions and we could suffer serious harm to our reputation (as a consequence of the negative perception resulting from such activities), our financial position, our partner firms’ client relationships and their ability to attract new clients.

The wealth management business often requires that we deal with confidential information. If principals or employees at our partner firms were to improperly use or disclose this information, even if inadvertently, we or our partner firms could be subject to legal action and suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial position and current and future business relationships or those of our partner firms. It is not always possible to deter misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not always be effective. Misconduct by principals or employees at our partner firms, or even unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct, could result in an adverse effect on our reputation and our business.

Failure to properly disclose conflicts of interest and comply with fiduciary duty requirements could harm our reputation, business and results of operations.

Some of our partner firms have affiliated SEC‑registered broker‑dealers and licensed insurance affiliates, which create conflicts of interests. Certain of our partner firms also have compensation arrangements pursuant to which they receive payments based on client assets invested in certain third‑party mutual funds. Such arrangements allow a partner firm to receive payments from multiple parties based on the same client asset and can incentivize a partner firm to act in a manner contrary to the best interests of its clients. As investment advisers subject to a legal obligation to operate under the fiduciary standard, these partner firms must fully disclose any conflicts between their interests and those of their clients. The SEC and other regulators have increased their scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest, and our partner firms have implemented policies and procedures to mitigate conflicts of interest. However, if our partner firms fail to fully disclose conflicts of interest or if their policies and procedures are not effective, they could face reputational damage, litigation or regulatory proceedings or penalties, any of which may adversely affect our reputation, business and results of operations.

Acquisitions of newly established RIA firms formed by teams of wealth management professionals formerly employed at traditional brokerages and wirehouses expose us to litigation risk.

As part of the Focus Independence program, we have to date, with limited exceptions, acquired substantially all of the assets of new RIA firms formed by teams of wealth management professionals formerly employed at traditional brokerages and wirehouses. These acquisitions may expose us to the risk of legal actions alleging misappropriation of confidential information, including client information, unfair competition, breach of contract and tortious interference with contracts between the lift out wealth management teams and the brokerage or wirehouse. Additionally, in November 2017 two larger brokerage firms withdrew from an industry agreement known as the Protocol for Broker Recruiting or the “Broker Protocol.” These withdrawals, and any additional withdrawals by signatories to the Broker Protocol, may increase the potential for such legal actions. These risks are often difficult to assess or quantify and their existence and magnitude often remain unknown for substantial periods of time, even after an action has been

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commenced. We may incur significant legal expenses in defending against litigation commenced by a brokerage or wirehouse. Substantial legal liability could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition or cause significant reputational harm to us.

In the event of a change of control of our company, we may be required to obtain the consent of our partner firms’ advisory clients to the change of control, and any failure to obtain these consents could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition or business.

As required by the Advisers Act, the investment advisory agreements entered into by our investment adviser subsidiaries provide that an “assignment” of the agreement may not be made without the client’s consent. Under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act”), advisory agreements with registered funds provide that they terminate automatically upon “assignment” and the board of directors and the shareholders of the registered fund must approve a new agreement for advisory services to continue. Under both the Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act, a change of ownership may constitute such an “assignment” if it is a change of control. For example, under certain circumstances, an assignment may be deemed to occur if a controlling block of voting securities is transferred, if any party acquires control, or, in certain circumstances, if a controlling party gives up control. Under the Investment Company Act, a 25% voting interest is presumed to constitute control. An assignment or a change of control could be deemed to occur in the future if we, or one of our investment adviser subsidiaries, were to gain or lose a controlling person, or in other situations that may depend significantly on facts and circumstances. In any such case we would seek to obtain the consent of our advisory clients, including any funds, to the assignment. To the extent of any failure to obtain these consents, our results of operations, financial condition or business could be adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Class A Common Stock, Ownership and Governance

An active, liquid and orderly trading market for our Class A common stock may not be maintained, and our stock price may be volatile.

Prior to July 2018, our Class A common stock was not traded on any market. An active, liquid and orderly trading market for our Class A common stock may not be maintained. Active, liquid and orderly trading markets usually result in less price volatility and more efficiency in carrying out investors’ purchase and sale orders. The market price of our Class A common stock could vary significantly as a result of a number of factors, some of which are beyond our control. In the event of a drop in the market price of our Class A common stock, you could lose a substantial part or all of your investment in our Class A common stock.

If our operating and financial performance in any given period does not meet the guidance that we have provided to the public or the expectations of our investors and analysts, our stock price may decline.

We provide public guidance on our expected operating and financial results for future periods, including at times revenue and Adjusted Net Income per share growth and leverage target ranges.  Although we believe that this guidance provides investors and analysts with a better understanding of management’s expectations for the future and is useful to our stockholders and potential stockholders, such guidance is comprised of forward-looking statements subject to the risks and uncertainties described in this report and in our other public filings and public statements. Our actual results may not always be in line with or exceed the guidance we have provided or the expectations of our investors and analysts, especially in times of economic uncertainty. In the past, when results have differed from such guidance or expectations, the market price of our common stock has declined. If, in the future, our operating or financial results for a particular period do not meet our guidance or the expectations of our investors and analysts or if we reduce our guidance for future periods, the market price of our common stock may decline.

Investment vehicles affiliated with our private equity investors own a substantial percentage of the voting power of our common stock.

Holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock vote together as a single class on all matters presented to our shareholders for their vote or approval, except as otherwise required by applicable law or our certificate of incorporation. As of February 20, 2020, investment vehicles affiliated with Stone Point Capital LLC (together with its

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affiliates, “Stone Point”) and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (together with its affiliates, “KKR” or, together with Stone Point, the “PE Holders”) collectively owned approximately 35.1% of our Class A common stock (representing 35.1% of the economic interest and 23.9% of the voting power) and 64.7% of our Class B common stock (representing 0% of the economic interest and 20.6% of the voting power).

Although the PE Holders are entitled to act separately in their own respective interests with respect to their stock in us, they together hold almost enough voting power to elect all of the members of our board of directors and thereby to control our management and affairs. Additionally, the PE Holders have the right to nominate an aggregate of three members of our board of directors for so long as they maintain certain ownership stakes. The PE Holders are likely able to determine the outcome of all matters requiring shareholder approval, including mergers and other material transactions, and are able to cause or prevent a change in the composition of our board of directors or a change in control of our company that could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares of Class A common stock as part of a sale of our company. The existence of significant shareholders may also have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers, delaying or preventing changes in control or changes in management, or limiting the ability of our other shareholders to approve transactions that they may deem to be in the best interests of our company.

Moreover, this concentration of stock ownership may also adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock to the extent investors perceive a disadvantage in owning stock of our company.

The interests of the PE Holders may differ from those of our public shareholders.

So long as the PE Holders continue to control a significant amount of our common stock, they will continue to be able to strongly influence all matters requiring shareholder approval, regardless of whether or not other shareholders believe that a potential transaction is in their own best interests. In any of these matters, the interests of the PE Holders (including their interests, if any, as TRA holders) may differ or conflict with the interests of our other shareholders. For example, the PE Holders may have different tax positions from us which could influence their decisions regarding whether and when to dispose of assets, whether and when to incur new or refinance existing indebtedness, especially in light of the existence of the Tax Receivable Agreements, and whether and when Focus Inc. should terminate the Tax Receivable Agreements and accelerate its obligations thereunder; provided that any decision to terminate the Tax Receivable Agreements and accelerate the obligations thereunder would also require the approval of a majority of the disinterested directors of Focus Inc. In addition, the structuring of future transactions may take into consideration the PE Holders’ tax or other considerations even where no similar benefit would accrue to us. See “Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Tax Receivable Agreements.”

Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, as well as Delaware law, contain provisions that could discourage acquisition bids or merger proposals, which may adversely affect the market price of our Class A common stock.

Our certificate of incorporation authorizes our board of directors to issue one or more classes or series of preferred stock, the terms of which may be established and the shares of which may be issued without shareholder approval, and which may include super voting, special approval, dividend, repurchase rights, liquidation preferences or other rights or preferences superior to the rights of the holders of Class A common stock. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock could adversely impact the value or our Class A common stock. Furthermore, if our board of directors elects to issue preferred stock it could be more difficult for a third party to acquire us. For example, our board of directors may grant holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of our directors in all events or upon the occurrence of specified events or the right to veto specified transactions.

In addition, some provisions of our certificate of incorporation and bylaws could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire control of us, even if the change of control would be beneficial to our shareholders, including: (i) prohibiting us from engaging in any business combination with any interested shareholder for a period of three years following the time that the shareholder became an interested shareholder, subject to certain exceptions, (ii) establishing advance notice provisions with regard to shareholder proposals relating to the nomination of candidates for election as directors or new business to be brought before meetings of our shareholders, (iii) providing that the authorized number

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of directors may be changed only by resolution of the board of directors, (iv) providing that all vacancies in our board of directors may, except as otherwise be required, be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors then in office, even if less than a quorum, (v) providing that our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least two‑thirds of our then outstanding voting stock, (vi) providing for our board of directors to be divided into three classes of directors, (vii) providing that our amended and restated bylaws can be amended by the board of directors, (viii) limitations on the ability of shareholders to call special meetings, (ix) limitations on the ability of shareholders to act by written consent, (x) requiring the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the voting stock held by affiliates of Stone Point and KKR, for so long as they collectively own at least 25% of our outstanding voting stock, to amend, alter, repeal or rescind certain provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and (xi) renouncing any reasonable expectancy interest that we have in, or right to be offered an opportunity to participate in, any corporate or business opportunities that are from time to time presented to Stone Point, KKR, directors affiliated with these parties and their respective affiliates.

In addition, certain change of control events have the effect of accelerating the payments due under the Tax Receivable Agreements, which could result in a substantial, immediate lump‑sum payment that could serve as a disincentive to a potential acquirer of us, please see “Risks Related to Our Structure—In cer