Top Valuation Firms

Esuric's picture
Esuric - Certified Professional
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I know this isn't exactly a hot topic on this fora, and most people wouldn't categorize valuation as a consulting function, but as I've stated in other posts, there seems to be increased interest/traction in the area. The fact of the matter is that valuation groups typically fall under Advisory and often have 'consultant' titles. Either way, in my 2+ year valuation career, I've come across many different valuation groups, each with varying niches and levels of quality. I think this topic might be helpful for those recent college/MSF grads looking into bval as a potential profession.

The point of this thread is to get a sense of how this community would rank the top 5 business valuation firms. Below is a list of firms that come to mind immediately, but please feel free to add in case I've missed any big ones:

Deloitte
EY
PwC
KPMG
BDO
Grant Thornton
CohnReznick
Houliahn Lokey
Duff & Phelps
MPI (Management Planning Inc)
VRC (Valuation Research Corporation)
Withum
Andersen Tax
RSM
Baker Tilly
CBIZ
Mercer Capital

Again, a list of your top 3-5 with your bottom 3 would be appreciated. An explanation of your ranking would helpful as well.

top 4 consulting valuation firms

For the most part, our users shared that the top valuation firms to work at are Houlihan Lokey, Duff & Phelps, and the big 4. Our users shard their individual rankings below.

StrategyJunkie - Investment Banking Analyst:

I would say Houlihan, D&P, and the Big 4. IMO, the independent ones beat Big 4 out as far as experience since Big 4 does a lot of review audit work.

realjackryan - Investment Banking Analyst:

Leaving out Big 4, I'd say:

  • Houlihan Lokey
  • Duff and Phelps
  • Stout Risius Ross

Houlihan Lokey takes the cake with more advanced transaction - related business; but D&P literally wrote the book on Valuation (Cost of Capital) and writes new issues every other year.

kenneth635 - Corporate Finance Analyst:

I worked in valuation for a few years before transitioning out but the top 5 for me in terms of work, pay, and exit opps would be:

  • Houlihan Lokey
  • Deloitte
  • Duff & Phelps
  • PwC
  • KPMG

You can learn more about the valuation group at one of the top firms, Duff & Phelps, below.

You can read more about all the above mentioned firms on the WSO Company Database.

Read More About Valuation Firms on WSO

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Comments (23)

Jan 30, 2017

Any thoughts on whether the economic consulting firms have much presence in this field?

Jan 30, 2017

I know that Navigant and Huron do a lot of pharma supply chain FMV work. I don't know if they're involved in financial reporting, though.

Jan 31, 2017

I think it depends on the office, and what you mean by "top." One of our top performing MDs had $5-6 million dollar book of business before getting poached, but his office turned out a bunch garbage.

I am a fan of the firms/offices focused on shareholder disputes/litigation support. Real value-add type stuff

Jan 30, 2017

Stout Risius Ross

Best Response
Sep 27, 2017

For some perspective from across the pond:

Germany
The German market for valuation appraisals is (my guess) 80-90% controlled by audit firms, mostly big 4 but also Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly and some others. The rest is Duff & Phelps and a few other specialized consulting firms (often spin offs of the mentioned firms). The IDW s1 ("Principles for the Performance of Business Valuations") of the German auditor's association is the de facto standard for court decisions and also for non-dispute-related valuation appraisals. It is fairly explicit (e.g. it tells you to use DCF and also which market risk premium to apply).
Some companies' articles of association would even preview that any disputes over the reimbursement of parting partners should be decided based on an audit firm's IDW S 1 appraisal.
While lately experiencing some competition from other industry associations' sets of standards, I'd assume that 95% of appraisals (even those written by non-audit firms) refer to the IDW S 1 auditor standard. That actually makes valuation disputes in Germany somewhat predictable.
EDIT: For fairness opinions, the market is more 50-50 banks vs. audit firms. Houlihan Lokey writes a ton of FOs.

France
The French market does not have such a dominance of audit firms . While, naturally, all the audit firms are active in the market, there is less of a de facto standard as there are several associations which publish valuation guidelines that - for the most part - are more vague than the above-mentioned IDW S 1. Therefore, there is a stronger presence of (specialiced or not) consulting firms and also many small firms (think 2-10 people).
It appears to me also that court rulings on presented valuations are less coherent / vary more widely when it comes to what is acceptable in valuation methodology and assumptions (than in Germany).

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Jan 31, 2017

I worked in valuation for a few years before transitioning out but the top 5 for me in terms of work, pay, and exit opps would be:

  1. Houlihan Lokey
    2, Deloitte
  2. Duff & Phelps
  3. PwC
  4. KPMG
Feb 1, 2017
kenneth635:

I worked in valuation for a few years before transitioning out but the top 5 for me in terms of work, pay, and exit opps would be:

  1. Houlihan Lokey2, Deloitte
  2. Duff & Phelps
  3. PwC
  4. KPMG

Interesting list. I'm surprised to see Deloitte ranked so highly. When you worked in bval, did you specialize in a specific industry vertical?

Feb 7, 2017

Yeah i had Deloitte basically tied with D&P since some of the engagements i saw from Deloitte were with larger fortune 100 companies than what i was seeing from Duff. Hours and entry level pay were also slightly better from the people i knew there. I did not specialize in a specific industry but did deal with lots valuations for Banks and Manufacturing.

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Jan 31, 2017

I would say Houlihan, D&P, and the Big 4.

I'd be interested to hear ppl's thoughts on big 4 valuation vs indep. firms (Houlihan, D&P, etc). IMO, the indep ones beat Big 4 out as far as experience since Big 4 does a lot of review audit work.

Jan 31, 2017

this. fair value is garb

Jan 31, 2017

Leaving out Big 4, I'd say

  1. HL
  2. D&P
  3. SRR

Hl takes the cake with more advanced transaction - related business; but D&P literally wrote the book on Valuation (Cost of Capital) and writes new issues every other year.

Jan 31, 2017

eh - they acquired it from Ibbotson, no?

Jan 31, 2017

Not sure, don't think so. could be wrong. It is different from the morningstar if that is what you are referencing.

Jan 31, 2017

Based on what I am reading, D&P started publishing the handbook in 2014, which was when Morningstar stopped publishing Ibbotson's valuation handbook.

I cant find anything about D&P acquiring the rights though.

Jan 31, 2017

D&P didn't acquire them. Like what you said, morningstar stopped making it so D&P took over. I would imagine every valuation firm / group has a copy of the cost of capital book.

I can confirm that I've heard that HL's val group does more non-traditional val engagements. D&P does the traditional ones but that's their 'bread and butter' and they do a lot of the large transactions' PPAs and F500 goodwill impairments.

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Feb 1, 2017

Thanks for the correction.

Feb 2, 2017

anyone have any thoughts/info on Sanli Pastore & Hill? seems they are more geared towards litigation services

Feb 2, 2017

[deleted]

Feb 7, 2017

I think exits opps can vary greatly when it comes to valuation and depends on what you want to do with your career.

I have seen FP&A, MM IB, Corp Dev, AM and the few unicorns that have gotten into PE/HF but those are one off and typically involve heavy networking/connections.

Feb 3, 2017

Hi OP. I was wondering if you could answer some questions I have on the valuation firms, since you seem to have a background in it. I'm interested in pursuing a career in valuations, but I'm currently 4 years in the work force, currently in product control at a BB. I was wondering if the Valuation firms, like the ones you've listed, only recruit from MSF programs which normally have people without any work experience? Do you they a recruit for MBA's lets say in the top 100 US schools with more than 5 years of work experience? Also, would they prefer someone with a CFA or CPA instead of an MBA? Final, question is what type of candidates do valuations firm recruit for, is the process very competitive, such as IB, PE, HF?

Jul 9, 2017

I was wondering if the Valuation firms, like the ones you've listed, only recruit from MSF programs which normally have people without any work experience?

So it depends on where you're applying. Some firms have very structured recruiting channels (e.g., Deloitte and D&P) and others are less structured (A&M and KPMG). What I can tell you is that it's very difficult to break in as an experienced hire if you don't have valuation experience. In other words, at the associate level, most firms prefer recent undergrads. Experienced associates and senior associates almost always have valuation experience. Deloitte has a direct MSF recruiting channel where certain programs (Rochester/Vanderbilt) participate as summer/winter analysts and select few are invited back as full time hires. I think Deloitte is unique in this regard.

To answer your question, an MSF will help you only if you gain valuation experience as an intern while you're in the program.

Do you they a recruit for MBA's lets say in the top 100 US schools with more than 5 years of work experience?

Yes. What will happen is that an Associate or Senior Associate will go to a 2nd/3rd tier program (think Smeal, Simon, Gabelli, etc.) and will come back in a more senior position (Manager/Senior Manager). Occasionally you have individuals from transfer pricing or Audit that transition into Bval (lateral move) post MBA. Those that go to top tier programs (Columbia/Stern) usually come back in a more senior position and then are fast tracked to director/partner.

Also, would they prefer someone with a CFA or CPA instead of an MBA?

In Bval, the more the merrier. Bval is obsessed with certifications. Between CFA/CPA, the CFA is usually preferred but it really depends on your office. The old Andersen guys (that are now partners everywhere) tend to prefer the CPA/ABV route.

Final, question is what type of candidates do valuations firm recruit for, is the process very competitive, such as IB, PE, HF?

The associate level is really fit (more so than quality of undergrad and technicals) and the experienced/senior associate level is pure technical (what do you know).

Hope this helps.

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Mar 29, 2018
Jan 12, 2019