Transitions, Transactions & Promotions: LPL To Acquire $40 Billion Branch, Cetera Recruits Recruiters, Choreo Reports Second $1 Billion Plus Acquisition in Two Weeks

Industry Leading Firms Engage In Major Wealth Management Recruitments, Acquisitions, Strategic Investments And Executive Hires

Chris Latham,
Deputy Managing Editor,
Wealth Solutions Report


Every deal in this month’s Transitions, Transactions & Promotions column involves a major wealth management industry player in one respect or another.

First Republic Bank, Oppenheimer & Co. and Raymond James recruited wealth management practices while LPL Financial, OneDigital and Choreo acquired firms. LPL was a massive outlier this time, with plans for a $40 billion branch acquisition.

Cetera Financial Group made a strategic investment in CCR Wealth Management while Steward Partners Global Advisory secured a credit facility from Apogem Capital, Manulife Investment Management and Cynosure.

Cetera also added three new team members to its recruitment and engagement roster, while digital investment platform provider FusionIQ hired a new chief technology officer who previously worked at Fidelity and Bank of America.

Our entries add fresh perspective to some stories we’ve published over the past few weeks and look into new developments that we explore for the first time. Here are the details:

Advisor Transactions

1. $500 Million Pair Leaves J.P. Morgan For First Republic Bank

Marc Koch and Christopher Walters, Executive Directors and Wealth Partners at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, joined First Republic Bank as Managing Directors and Wealth Managers. The advisors operate in New York and Connecticut, according to the press release. They reportedly oversee approximately $500 million in assets.

Jumping to another bank.

Why it matters: It has become routine for wirehouse advisors to break away and join independent broker-dealers or RIAs, where they can potentially earn higher payouts, or at least jump to another wirehouse for a huge signing bonus. Less commonly announced are successful advisors at global banks who exit for banks with primarily domestic locations. First Republic Bank hadnearly $250 billion in wealth management assets in its most recent quarterly earnings report.

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

2. Oppenheimer Expands Nashville Office With Recruitment Of Meridian Wealth Group

Oppenheimer & Co. expanded its Private Client Division by bringing on Meridian Wealth Group, which will operate through its Nashville office. Meridian is led by John Wade, who has over 20 years of financial services experience and will serve as Executive Director, Investments. The team includes Aaron Fiske, Director, Investments, as well as two experienced associates.

Recently opened office

Why it matters: Oppenheimer’s Nashville office opened earlier this year, in March. This deal is a sign the company is committed to growing in strategically important geographic markets across the country. It had $35.3 billion in assets under management (AUM), 985 advisors and 91 retail branch offices as of Sept. 30, according to its third quarter earnings report.

In addition to wealth management, Oppenheimer provides securities brokerage and investment banking services to high net worth individuals, families, corporate executives, local governments, businesses and institutions.

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

3. Raymond James Recruits 17-Person Team From Baird With $2.9 Billion In Virginia

A 17-person team based in Reston, Virginia, with $2.9 billion in client assets switched from Baird to the employee advisor channel of Raymond JamesSimon Hamilton, the team’s managing director and portfolio manager, leads The Wise Investor Group of Raymond James, which is in the Washington, D.C.-area.

Why it matters: Baird recently reported approximately $275.8 billion in AUM, so Raymond James potentially gains a relevant portion of its competitor’s assets with this deal. The nation’s capital also is a prime strategic location for Raymond James to add a large number of successful advisors.

Assets in transition

According to the Wise Investor Group’s webpage, it has appeared on numerous top industry lists in recent years. These include the 2022 Barron’s Top 100 Private Wealth Management Teams, the 2021 Forbes Top 250 Wealth Advisors and the 2020 Financial Times 400 Top Financial Advisers lists, as well as the 2021 Virginia Business 500 Power list.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Mergers & Acquisitions

4. LPL To Acquire $40 Billion Branch, Financial Resources Group Investment Services

LPL Financial announced plans to acquire the Fort Mills, South Carolina-based branch Financial Resources Group Investment Services (FRGIS). The teams consists of 800 advisors and 85 financial institutions across the country, serving approximately $40 billion of advisory and brokerage assets. FRGIS will remain an independent operation, keeping its own branding and leadership, which includes partner and CEO Bruce Miller. LPL expects the equity purchase to close early next year.

Why it matters: Aside from the high level of assets in play, this deal is exceptional for its positioning. Rich Steinmeier, LPL Financial managing director and divisional president, Business Development, made the case in the press release.

Strong long-term relationship

“This acquisition strengthens our relationship with a strategically important client and provides a foundation on which to accelerate expansion of several strategic growth areas, particularly in the financial institution space,” he said. “FRGIS is an industry leader of managed programs for banks and credit unions and provides a strategic complement to LPL’s existing enterprise offering.”

To learn more, view the press release here.

5. Parthenon Capital-Backed Choreo To Acquire Second RIA in Two Weeks

Choreo, an RIA with 28 locations nationwide, agreed to acquire Cherry Bekaert Wealth Management (CBWM), an RIA that oversees approximately $1 billion in assets and is affiliated with Cherry Bekaert Advisory, one of the largest assurance, tax and advisory firms in the U.S. Brooks Nelson serves as interim CEO of CBWM.

Expanding in California

Why it matters: The deal, which expands Choreo’s presence in the Southeast and increases its total assets under management and advisement to approximately $14.5 billion, demonstrates the ongoing trend of large RIAs with private equity backing conducting significant acquisitions. Choreo and Cherry Bekaert Advisory also are forging a strategic partnership to collaborate on go-to-market and acquisition opportunities.

This latest acquisition closely follows Choreo’s purchase, announced earlier this month, of Enso Wealth Management, an independent RIA with nearly $1.8 billion in client assets, which WSR recently covered. That deal expands Choreo’s presence in northern California and Nevada. Enso was Choreo’s first acquisition since launching as a standalone company. In February, Choreo’s management team, a group of its advisors and PE firm Parthenon Capital bought it from RSM, which is among the biggest accounting firms in the U.S. 

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

6. OneDigital Adds $300 Million JFL Total Wealth Management In New Jersey

OneDigital Investment Advisors acquired JFL Total Wealth Management, a Boonton, New Jersey-based team that also provides retirement plan services and employee benefits programs for businesses. Jerry Lynch, President of JFL, will join with his five-person team that has approximately $300 million in AUM.

Why it matters: Retirement plans and employee benefits also connect with the non-wealth management aspects of OneDigital’s other business lines, so this deal enhances internal synergies at the parent company. According to the press release, the deal was the seventh strategic wealth management transaction in 2022 for OneDigital Investment Advisors.

Achieving synergies

The RIA is a subsidiary of the Atlanta-based insurance brokerage, financial services and HR consulting firm OneDigital, which serves over 100,000 employers. The RIA has AUM of approximately $108.1 billion, more than 1 million participants and 41,000 individual accounts.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Strategic Partnerships

7. Cetera Makes Strategic Investment In $2.5 Billion AUM CCR Wealth Management

Cetera Financial Group took a minority-stake strategic investment in Westborough, Massachusetts-based CCR Wealth Management. The team, which is led by Managing Partner David Borden and consists of more than 35 members, has approximately $2.5 billion in assets under management (AUM).

Natural acquirer

Why it matters: Long-term partnerships are a sign of trust, and this transaction could be a sign to other potential sellers in similar situations that Cetera is a natural acquirer for their business. Cetera described the investment as an example of how other advisory teams can take advantage of its solutions and technology to grow assets.

Borden is a member of the Cetera Advisors Advisory Council. CCR Wealth Management has been affiliated with Cetera Advisors since 2000, when CCR was a two-person firm, according to the press release.

To learn more, view the press release here.

8. Steward Partners Secures $140 Million Credit Facility To Boost Recruiting And Growth

Steward Partners Global Advisory secured a $140 million credit facility from Apogem Capital, Manulife Investment Management and Cynosure. The employee-owned, full-service independent broker-dealer and RIA is based in Washington, D.C., with offices nationwide.

Accelerating recruitment

Why it matters: The deal is intended to help Steward Partners achieve growth by accelerating its recruitment initiatives and enhancing its products and services. The company also has a close relationship with Raymond James, through which it offers clients certain advisory services, lending strategies, insurance solutions and institutional consulting, according to the Steward Partners website.

To learn more, view the press release here.

Promotions & People Moves

9. Cetera Enhances Recruitment And Engagement Roster With Three New Hires

Cetera Financial Group hired three new business development team members. Jeremy Wilmes, who previously worked at Truist Life Insurance Holdings, joined as a senior recruiter covering Florida. Tim Petrovich, who previously worked at Atria Wealth Solutions, joined as a senior recruiter covering California. James Fox, who previously worked at JP Morgan Chase, joined as a sourcing and engagement specialist. 

Doubling growth

Why it matters: The company attracted a record $6.3 billion in recruited assets during the third quarter, which is almost double the more than $3.6 billion in assets recruited during the second quarter. These hires, which follow earlier hires this year to expand its business development team, are intended to help Cetera build on that strong momentum for recruited assets.

To learn more, view the press release here.

10. FusionIQ Hires Fidelity And Bank Of America Veteran As Chief Technology Officer

Digital investing platform FusionIQ appointed John Kimbro Chief Technology Officer. Kimbro reports to CEO Mark C. Healy as he takes the reins of the Massachusetts-based firm’s technology solutions for RIAs, broker-dealers and wealth management divisions of financial institutions.  

Why it matters: Wealth management firms are increasingly in need of user-friendly technology that makes it easier to scale up their portfolio management capabilities with automated solutions that remain reliable for clients during prolonged periods of market volatility. This requires providers to understand both sides of the fintech equation.

Understanding the fintech equation

Kimbro brings extensive experience in technology, operations and strategy from over two decades with Fidelity and almost 12 years with Bank of America. Shortly after his hire, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) e-commerce workstation provider also announced the rollout of its new turnkey asset management platform for wealth managers, called finTAMP. The white-label solution provides digital account opening, workflows and a model marketplace as well as a portal for advisors and portfolio managers.

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

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

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