Transitions, Transactions & Promotions: Integrity and Creative Planning Pursue Huge Acquisitions

Chris Latham, Deputy Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Constant Deal Flow, Multi-Office Exits, Fintech Expansions and Organizational Revamps Define a Busy Month


Streamlining this month’s Transitions, Transactions & Promotions down to 10 entries was as much art as science. More than 30 different wealth management industry developments were under consideration at one point. (We will soon also begin a modified weekly roundup, to capture some of this additional activity.)

One development we cover in a separate article on WSR is the Concourse Financial Group recruitment of the hybrid RIA practice Key Group Management. Two potentials that ultimately did not make the cut were Toronto-based CI Financial announcing plans to conduct an IPO for its U.S. wealth management business, and global asset manager BlackRock allowing its Aladdin portfolio management software clients to access crypto trading and custody through Coinbase.

So what do we cover below? Arete Wealth and Commonwealth recruited billion-dollar teams, while private bankers from rival companies joined forces to create Fidelis Capital. In M&A, Integrity Marketing Group agreed to acquire Gladstone Wealth Partners, Edelman Financial Engines acquired Smart Investor and Creative Planning acquired Wipfli Financial Advisors.

Regarding strategic partnerships, fintech provider Pontera struck a deal to enable Dynasty-affiliated RIAs to manage held away client assets while Signature Estate & Investment Advisors received an investment from both Reverence Capital as well as Advisor Group.

As for promotions and people moves, SFA Partners named Bryan Yvon as Director of Business Development.

Here are the details:

Advisor Transactions

1. Arete Wealth Recruits Branch of 66 Registered Reps with $2.5 Billion in AUM

Bon voyage!

Arete Wealth recruited the Fincadia Group from National Securities Corp., which for the previous 18 years had served the team of 66 registered representatives across five East Coast locations. One of the major reasons the Fincadia Group registered reps, who manage over $2.5 billion in total assets, made the move is the alternative investment offering at Arete Wealth, according to the press release. 


Why it matters: This is the second major deal in 18 months by the Chicago-based broker-dealer, RIA and insurance firm. Back in January 2021, Arete Wealth acquired Nashville, Tenn.-based Center Street Securities, which had more than $1 billion in assets under management at the time, and Arete Wealth’s alts platform played a large role in that deal. As of the Fincadia Group recruitment, Arete Wealth has $8.5 billion in total assets managed by 318 registered reps across 97 U.S. offices.

To learn more, view the press release here.

2. Ex-Wells Fargo and Bank of America Private Bankers Launch Fidelis Capital

Leading private bankers formerly of two rival institutions, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, broke away to form the advisor-owned wealth management firm Fidelis Capital with offices in Tampa, Fla., and Dallas, Texas. The Tampa team includes CEO Rick Simonetti, Matthew Michaels and Paul Ayotte. The Dallas team includes Neale Ellis, Matthew Ellis and Libby Castle. Fidelis Capital caters to ultra-high-net-worth clients and its members previously advised on a total of nearly $6 billion in assets.

Why it matters: This move demonstrates that independence continues to be highly attractive to advisors who grew up in the bank model of wealth management. Not only are they willing to exit, they are willing to work with former competitors while building a business in two far apart locations, despite the potential challenges of culture fit and client retention that can come with it. 

To learn more, view the press release here.


3. Commonwealth Brings on $1.4 Billion Strategic Financial Solutions as Indie Team

Seven financial advisors and their support staff based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, transitioned from Principal Securities to Commonwealth Financial Network. Larry Witzel serves as president of the independent team known as Strategic Financial Solutions, which oversees $1.4 billion in total assets with specialties including corporate retirement plan guidance.  

Why it matters: This is at least the fourth team to join Commonwealth’s independent network in 2022, indicating that CFN is on a recruitment roll. In March, Stonebridge Financial Planning Group with $220 million in assets made the move, followed by Lumitas Wealth Strategies with $380 million in May and Censia Wealth Advisors with $165 million earlier this month.

To learn more, view the press releases here, here, here and here.


Mergers & Acquisitions

4. Integrity Agrees to Acquire Gladstone Wealth, Expanding Beyond Insurance

Integrity Marketing Group, a Dallas-based distributor of life and health insurance that also offers financial planning tools, has agreed to acquire Gladstone Wealth Partners. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based RIA serves clients nationwide with more than 100 financial professionals and over $13 billion in assets under management. Gladstone achieved a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108% during the past three years, according to the press release.

Why it matters: Integrity has invested heavily in its insurance technology (insuretech) platform. Many financial advisors have a limited understanding of how to help clients evaluate the best life insurance solutions, much less how to evaluate health insurance for clients. Meanwhile, insurance reps who seek to grow into holistic financial advisors may face credibility hurdles. So if this deal works out, the industry may see even more insurance platforms acquiring large RIAs.

To learn more, view the press release here.


5. Edelman Financial Engines Acquires Smart Investor, a $680 Million RIA

Smart Investor, a California-based RIA overseeing $680 million for more than 500 clients, has sold to Edelman Financial Engines. The RIA also provides retirement plan management to small businesses. Its advisory team includes Roseville, Calif.-based Maddy Phillips, and Woodland, Calif.-based Aaron Schmoekel.

Putting the pieces together.

Why it matters: With $275 billion in assets, more than 1 million clients and over 145 offices nationwide, it might not seem noteworthy for EFE to acquire yet another RIA. But the deal helps Edelman expand its footprint in Northern California, a region dense in high-net-worth investors. It also follows the 2021 acquisition of Washington-based Viridian Advisors, which oversaw $846 million in assets at the time. 

To learn more, view the press release here.


6. Creative Planning Acquires $5 Billion Wipfli Financial Advisors

Creative Planning, one of the largest RIAs in the U.S. with more than $225 billion in client assets, acquired the wealth management and investment arm of Wipfli LLP, a major CPA and advisory firm. Wipfli LLP will maintain a minority ownership stake as Creative Planning takes on Wipfli Financial Advisors, the RIA with $5 billion in assets under management and 95 employees.

Why it matters: Creative Planning increases its office locations and AUM levels while gaining a significant number of advisors who are adept at tax-efficient financial planning. This potentially augments Creative Planning’s ability to serve multigenerational families, business owners, estates and trusts. Wipfli LLP’s minority stake also indicates that its former wealth management arm may generate substantial profits in the long-term.

To learn more, view the press release here.


Strategic Partnerships

7. Dynasty and Pontera allow RIAs to Manage Held Away Client Accounts

Dynasty Financial Partners, a provider of back- and middle-office solutions for RIAs, and the fintech provider Pontera, announced a deal to enable Dynasty-affiliated RIAs to manage held away client accounts including 401(k)s and 403(b)s on Pontera’s SOC 2 certified platform. Advisors will be able to harness trading, billing and performance report integrations on the accounts for clients, with Dynasty handling the operational elements of the Pontera platform.

Why it matters: These features may remove some hurdles that independent advisors face in addressing the retirement planning needs of clients, such as gaining full access to the client’s financial picture which often relies heavily on employer-sponsored plans. It also may allow advisors to stay ahead of possible retirement planning impacts from the Secure Act 2.0 and the DOL Fiduciary Rule.

To learn more, view the press release here.


8.  Reverence Capital and Advisor Group Invest in SEIA

Signature Estate & Investment Advisors
(SEIA), which has more than $16 billion in assets under management, received an equity investment from private equity firm Reverence Capital Partners. This is intended to allow SEIA advisors to offer clients RIA and broker-dealer services through a unified platform, enhance client-facing technology, and provide stronger family office services. SEIA also plans to work with the newly formed broker-dealer Signature Estate Securities.

Why it matters: SEIA is in its 25th year of business and aims to achieve a long-term growth and continuity strategy. Meanwhile its open architecture TAMP, called Signature Investment Advisors (SIA), will be available to advisors across the RIA and IBD space. Advisor Group, a Reverence Capital portfolio company and one of the nation’s largest networks of IBDs, will remain a strategist on SIA’s wealth management platform and provide strategic capital investment alongside Reverence Capital to support SEIA’s growth.

To learn more, view the press release here.


Promotions & People Moves

9. SFA Partners Taps Bryan Yvon to Boost Advisor Recruitment, Organic Growth


Atlanta-based SFA Partners named 30-year financial industry veteran Bryan Yvon as Director of Business Development. Yvon will be responsible for boosting financial advisor recruitment and promoting organic growth among existing advisors. He began in 1994 as an advisor for Allmerica Financial, and in 1998 started a two-decade wholesaling career. Most recently, Yvon was Director of Investment Relations at BC Partners.

Why it matters: SFA Partners has ramped up its executive team this year. Yvon will report to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jamie Mackay, who was appointed to that position in April. The firm — which works with registered reps, hybrid advisors and RIA advisors — has seen assets under management for its Strategic Blueprint, LLC, registered investment adviser double in the previous two years to $1.6 billion.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Chris Latham, Deputy Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at clatham@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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