SageView’s Jeremy Holly on M&A-Driven Growth

SageView Advisory Group’s Addition of Jeremy Holly to Leadership Team Gives Private Equity-Backed RIA a New Edge in M&A Activities

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst

With interest rates at historic lows and continuous waves of private equity investors entering the wealth management industry, the M&A market among RIA firms is positioned to become even more active.

SageView Advisory Group, backed by private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners, clearly recognizes the importance of M&A-driven growth.  The Newport Beach, California-based RIA has already reached a size and scale that many firms would envy, with $132 billion of assets and 25 offices nationwide, delivering retirement plan and wealth management consulting services to clients throughout the U.S.

To further the next stage of its growth efforts, SageView recently named LPL Financial senior executive Jeremy Holly to the newly-created role of Chief Development and Integration Officer, leading SageView’s organic and M&A-based growth efforts.

SageView Advisory Group has already grown to $132 billion of assets with 25 offices nationwide!

Wealth Solutions Report connected with Holly to discuss his new position, how his experiences at LPL reinforce the value he brings to SageView, and the must-have elements of a successful M&A transaction.

WSR:  Please tell us about your prior role at LPL Financial, how your work supported the company’s broader growth, and how it all ties into your new position at SageView.

My new role with SageView is consistent with what I’ve been focused on for years at LPL Financial:  Generating strong and scalable M&A-driven growth.  

As Head of Corporate Development at LPL, I had oversight of the firm’s M&A strategy, identifying and executing scale acquisitions of larger broker-dealers, strategic acquisitions of RIAs and capability acquisitions that benefited our financial advisors.  

I also built and ran LPL’s M&A Solutions group, which helps financial advisors grow and unlock value through M&A and succession planning.  

My perspectives at both the corporate and advisor level align nicely with SageView’s business strategy.

WSR:  What were the top three growth metrics or other key stats / achievements for the broader LPL organization that you contributed towards?  What are you proudest of achieving during your time at LPL?

“Look at all that organic growth!”

Without question, my proudest achievement is LPL’s acquisition of Waddell & Reed, which was my baby from concept to completion.  Not only did this drive a surge of growth for LPL, it was a great outcome for Waddell & Reed’s financial advisors, who benefited from capabilities and resources that they didn’t have access to previously.

The metric I’m proudest of was organic growth, encompassing net new assets, retained assets and monetization.  All of which was supported by corporate M&A as well as advisor M&A!

WSR:  What made joining SageView an appealing next career move for you, in terms of what makes the firm’s story unique, and in terms of your specific new role?

SageView has an amazing reputation in the industry – especially the institutional retirement segment – and the firm now has a tremendous opportunity to unlock value on the wealth management side while continuing to grow their retirement business.

Partner the firm with Aquiline, a well-known and respected financial services-focused private equity partner, and you have an extremely formidable competitor.  

On top of that, my role enables me to do what I love in a space that I’ve always been passionate about – It’s an opportunity that would be impossible to turn down.

WSR:  What are the ideal types of acquisition targets for SageView, and why are these businesses a strong fit with the firm’s strategic vision?

We’re expanding with acquisitions that ladder up to both the retirement and wealth management sides of SageView’s business.

On the retirement side, ideal acquisitions are retirement practices in locations where we do not currently have offices, but we will also continue to add smaller advisory practices in existing offices.

On the wealth front, the opportunity is broader and has a longer runway.  In this area, we’re looking at wealth management businesses in both existing and new locations, focusing on where we have already have a meaningful number of plan participants.

And of course, culture is key.  We want to partner with advisors and firms with similar values and compatible culture to SageView.  As my previous CEO liked to say, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  

You can have the best possible M&A strategy on paper, but you need to have the experience in actually executing on acquisition integrations to be able to identify, through due diligence discussions, which firms will truly fit well with yours. 

WSR:  Why should potential acquisition targets be interested in joining forces with SageView?

On the retirement side, SageView’s ability to help grow and scale the practice by taking things off the advisor’s plate enables a greater focus on revenue-generating activities.  

Acquisitions will help fuel SageView’s upcoming growth plans

Likewise, on the wealth side, there is a huge opportunity to provide additional services to SageView’s nearly 1.5 million plan participants to fuel growth.  

In addition, advisors gain access to SageView’s in-house investment committee and the broad range of services offered to both institutional and individual clients.

WSR:  Clearly, the pace of M&A across the wealth management space continues to heat up.  With so much activity in this space, what are the most important opportunities and challenges for potential sellers of independent wealth management businesses to keep top of mind?

The key things to keep top of mind are the reasons why for selling and what is most important to them.  

Jeremy Holly, Chief Development & Integration Officer, SageView Advisory Group

Are they looking to partner with another firm to help drive growth and scale?  Is the potential sale an opportunity to take some chips off the table?  Are they looking for help in finding a G2 to take over the practice?  

Finding a partner that is a cultural fit and helps solve for what is most important is critical.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past five years, any genre, fiction or nonfiction – And why?

I have an affinity for the classics.  I regularly re-read The Count of Monte Cristo.  On the surface, it is a classic revenge tale, but that’s not what keeps me coming back to the novel.  

What I appreciate most about the narrative is the softer side of the Count, as he comes to realize the importance of family and doing good.

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