Transitions, Transactions & Promotions: Perigon Conducts M&A While Hightower Makes Strategic Investment

Chris Latham, Deputy Managing Editor,
Wealth Solutions Report

Over $7 Billion In Activity Across 8 Deals, A Regtech Partnership For Direct Trading Data And 2 Executive Hires To Accelerate Growth

This month’s Transitions, Transactions & Promotions column covers activity on more than $7 billion in wealth management client assets, across eight deals. Our entries add fresh perspective to some stories we’ve published over the past few weeks and look into new developments that we explore here for the first time.

Deal flow stays hot

Advisor transactions and M&A stayed hot through the last month of summer. Advisor Group and Atria Wealth Solutions recruited practices while Moran Wealth Management established its RIA. Curi Capital, Perigon Wealth Management and Merit Financial Advisors also conducted M&A transactions.

We recap two very different kinds of strategic partnerships. On the advisory firm side, Hightower made a strategic investment in Highland Private Wealth Management. On the wealthtech side, ComplySci announced an exclusive partnership with Apex Clearing Corporation.

In promotions and people moves, two firms made executive-level hires to accelerate their growth. Vestmark appointed as Chief Executive Officer Karl Roessner, who formerly served as CEO of Lefteris Acquisition Corp. and before that of E*TRADE. MAI Capital Management brought on Colter Lewis, formerly Texas Regional President of Northern Trust, as its new President of Wealth Management. 

Here are the details:

Advisor Transactions

1. Advisor Group Brings On Brian Falconer’s Wealth Management Resource Group

Brian Falconer and his team of 16 registered representatives affiliated their Braintree, Mass.-based OSJ, Wealth Management Resource Group, with Advisor Group through the IBD network’s member firm SagePoint Financial. The team, which oversees $203 million in client assets, comes from Securian Financial Services. Falconer has more than 20 years of industry experience.

Why it matters: Advisor Group has conducted approximately half a dozen wealth management team recruitments this year. Collectively, those teams oversee more than $7.5 billion in client assets. Prior to those deals, at the end of 2021, Advisor Group’s network of firms oversaw approximately $515 billion in client assets.

To learn more, view the press release here.

2. Atria Wealth Solutions Adds UBS Advisors To Cadaret Grant & Co.-Affiliated OSJ

Smooth sailing?

Birmingham, Mich.-based advisors Anthony Mona and Joseph Mansoor joined Atria Wealth Solutions via the Spartan Wealth Management OSJ affiliated with its Cadaret Grant & Co. subsidiary. Mona and Mansoor, who came from UBS, manage more than $600 million in client assets. Prior to UBS, Mona worked at Morgan Stanley and Mansoor worked at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Why it matters: UBS has reportedly experienced a massive advisor exodus over the years, with headcount at just above 5,600 and nearly half the size of its wirehouse peers by that measure. A decade ago, UBS reported having approximately 7,000 brokers. This month, UBS also announced the termination of its planned $1.4 billion acquisition of the robo-advisor Wealthfront.

To learn more, view the press release here.

3. Moran Wealth Management Breaks Away From Wells Fargo To Establish RIA

Naples, Fla.-based Moran Wealth Management broke away from Wells Fargo Advisors to establish an RIA with $4 billion in assets under management (AUM). The 36-employee team is led by Thomas Moran, who joined Wells Fargo in 1984. BNY Mellon’s Pershing will provide clearing and custody services for the new RIA, which serves clients with investment and portfolio management, individual and corporate retirement planning, as well as tax-efficient estate planning and charitable giving strategies.

Why it matters: This deal shows that, when a mega team goes independent, a wirehouse’s loss can be another large bank’s gain. Pershing has over $2 trillion in assets, which exceeds the $1.9 trillion estimated for Wells Fargo. It’s also worth noting that Wells Fargo is simultaneously coping with $145 million in disciplinary action fines over its 401(k) plan and an independent racial equity audit of its business practices.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Mergers & Acquisitions

4. Curi Capital Acquires Park Ridge Asset Management, Second Deal In Under 12 Months

Raleigh, N.C.-based Curi Capital, the RIA subsidiary of the physicians and medical practices consultancy Curi, acquired the investment advisory business of Park Ridge Asset Management. Park Ridge co-founders David Arthur and Keith Karlawish will join Curi Capital as senior directors, while their colleague Katie Strother will join as a wealth advisor.

Keeping doctors in good financial health

Why it matters: This deal demonstrates the value proposition of wealth management firms that target the healthcare profession. It also follows Curi Capital’s acquisition of KDI Capital Partners, which closed on Dec. 31. At the close of the previous acquisition, Curi Capital reported $1.3 billion in assets under advisement (AUA) and at the close of the Park Ridge deal it reported over $1.5 billion in AUA.

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

5. Perigon To Merge With PM Wealth Management, Forge Alliance With Prager Metis

San Francisco-based RIA Perigon Wealth Management announced plans to merge with PM Wealth Management, an RIA with main offices in New York and New Jersey, as well as to form a strategic alliance with New York-based Prager Metis, an accounting and advisory firm affiliated with Prager Metis International. Perigon oversees approximately $3.6 billion in client assets and PM’s nearly $750 million in AUM will give the combined firm more than $4.3 billion in assets.

Why it matters: PM Wealth previously was part of Prager Metis. The sale suggests that fit can sometimes be more strategically important than size. Accounting firms and wealth management firms can work well together, but their business structures and client-facing roles can present obstacles to cohesive operations. For example, although Perigon and Prager Metis will be preferred providers to each other’s clients, “Perigon will remain tax agnostic and able to work with any tax firm that provides solutions that align with its clients’ needs.”

To learn more, view the press release here.

6. Merit Acquires Ceponis Financial Group And Brook Wealth Management

Atlanta-based Merit Financial Advisors acquired two firms in Connecticut, Ceponis Financial Group (CFG) and Brook Wealth Management (BWM). Together, the acquisitions bring in approximately $277 million in client assets. Christopher Ceponis leads CFG from Ridgefield. Daryl LePage leads BWM from Rocky Hill. Ceponis and LePage each have 25 years of financial services experience.

On a roll

Why it matters: These deals are the ninth and tenth acquisitions since December 2020 by Merit, which oversees $6.1 billion in assets. In January 2021, Merit received a minority investment stake from holding company Wealth Partners Capital Group and private equity firm HGGC. This is yet another instance of PE firms fueling independent channel acquisitions even when the PE firm is not the acquirer.

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

Strategic Partnerships

7. Hightower Makes Strategic Investment In Highland Private Wealth Management

Hightower made a strategic investment in Bellevue, Wash.-based Highland Private Wealth Management, with a team of five advisors and 18 employees that oversees $1.2 billion in assets. Highland was founded by John Christianson, CEO, who also founded the Wealth Confidant training program for advisors and the JC Christianson Inc. wealth and life coaching process.

Why it matters: This is Chicago-based Hightower’s seventh announced deal of 2022. It follows three M&A deals and two strategic investments in firms whose combined client assets total at least $6.6 billion, as well as receiving a federal charter to launch Hightower Trust Company. Hightower has approximately $132.6 billion in AUA across 131 advisory businesses nationwide.

To learn more, view the press release here.

8. Regtech Firm ComplySci Partners With Apex Clearing For Direct Trading Data Feed

Wealthtech and regtech firm ComplySci announced an exclusive partnership with custodian Apex Clearing Corporation, a Peak 6 company, to provide ComplySci’s clients with direct broker connectivity to Apex’s trading platform, raising the company’s number of direct trading platform feeds to 225.

Why it matters: Direct digital feeds that connect brokers and trading platforms to compliance monitoring are increasingly crucial to financial services firms of all kinds. The default alternative to direct feeds is manual data entry, which has a higher risk of human error. Increased emphasis on the benefits of direct feed relationships has created more heated competition among third-party compliance technology providers to lock in relationships with tech-friendly custodians such as Apex.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Promotions & People Moves

9. Vestmark Hires Former E*TRADE CEO, Appoints First President & COO

Vestmark announced the expansion of its leadership team by appointing former E*TRADE executive Karl Roessner as CEO and moving its former CEO, Mike Blundin, to the newly created role of President and COO. Roessner will focus on business growth, expanded partnerships with other fintech companies and the addition of adjacent product lines. Blundin will focus on operations, platform development, direct indexing and service programs.

C-suite experience

Why it matters: Roessner has 25 years of experience, most recently as CEO of Lefteris Acquisition Corp., an acquisition company focused on fintech firms. Prior to that he served as CEO of E*TRADE and a partner at international law firm Clifford Chance. His background appears to make him a strong match for Vestmark, a wealth management software and services provider supporting over $1.5 trillion in assets and more than 5 million accounts. 

To learn more, view the press release here.

10. MAI Capital Management Hires Northern Trust Exec As Head of Wealth Management

Cleveland-based MAI Capital Management brought on Colter Lewis, formerly Texas Regional President of Northern Trust, as its new President of Wealth Management. Lewis will be responsible for recruiting advisor teams and growing MAI’s presence in the Southwest. He has more than 25 years of industry experience.

Why it matters: Since 2018, MAI has acquired 22 RIAs nationwide and built out business units to support its sports and entertainment, investments and insurance solutions. In addition to Merit Financial Advisors mentioned above, Wealth Partners Capital Group also backs MAI Capital Management. In turn, MAI – which oversees $13.4 billion in AUM – is a subsidiary of the diversified financial services distribution platform Galway Holdings.

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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