Recruitment Roundup: Hightower, LPL, Stratos, Ritholtz And Focus Financial Partners

Chris Latham, Deputy Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Hightower Facilitates California Sub-Acquisition, LPL Recruits Advisor From Merrill Lynch, Stratos Expands Stake In First Wealth, Ritholtz To Acquire Book Of Business From BlackRock’s Robo-Advisor And Focus Prepares For Take-Private PE Buyout

Our latest edition of the Weekly Recruitment Roundup covers Hightower Advisors facilitating a $385 million sub-acquisition by Schultz Collins Investment Counsel; LPL Financial recruiting a $440 million advisor from Merrill Lynch; Stratos Wealth Partners expanding its stake in $348 million First Wealth Financial Group into majority ownership; Ritholtz Wealth Management agreeing to acquire the book of business from BlackRock’s $1.7 billion FutureAdvisor; and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice agreeing to acquire Focus Financial Partners for $7 billion.

1. Hightower Advisors Facilitates $385 Million Sub-Acquisition In California

Bob Oros, CEO, Hightower

Hightower Advisors facilitated a sub-acquisition by Orinda, California-based Schultz Collins Investment Counsel of Oakland, California-based DHR Investment Counsel, which oversees approximately $385 million in assets. The husband-and-wife team of Davis Riemer and Louise Rothman-Riemer lead DHR Investment Counsel.

This deal puts Schultz Collins at more than $1.3 billion in assets under supervision. Founded in 1995 by Dale Schultz, Patrick Collins and Kristor Lawson, the firm joined Hightower in January 2020. As of Dec. 31, Hightower’s assets under administration (AUA) were approximately $144.3 billion and assets under management (AUM) were approximately $113.7 billion.

“We are pleased to support Schultz Collins in facilitating this growth-minded acquisition,” Hightower Chairman and CEO Bob Oros said in the press release. “Together, Schultz Collins and DHR Investment Counsel serve a highly attractive, complementary clientele. This acquisition will go a long way in supporting the firm’s ambitious growth plans and helping empower their next generations of advisors.”

To learn more, view the press release here.

2. LPL Recruits $440 Million Merrill Lynch Advisor Thom Maher In Arizona 

Thom Maher, a financial advisor who oversaw approximately $440 million in advisory, brokerage and retirement plan assets at Merrill Lynch, joined LPL Financial. Maher, who is based in Phoenix and has nearly 30 years of financial services experience, launched the independent practice Maher Wealth Management through the LPL Strategic Wealth Services breakaway solution.

Strategic Wealth aims to provide wirehouse breakaway advisors with access to LPL’s integrated wealth management platform and ongoing strategic support for daily operations and long-term business management. This encompasses a team consisting of a business strategist, marketing partner, CFO and administrative assistant, along with a single point of contact, according to the press release.

“Through the due diligence process, it became very clear to me that our clients would be best served at LPL,” Maher said in the press release. “LPL’s comprehensive support, technology and research, along with its model of transparency and dedication to independence and choice, allows us to provide a wide range of diligently evaluated, non-proprietary products and personalized experiences.”

To learn more, view the press release here.

3. Stratos Expands Into Majority Ownership Of $348 Million First Wealth

Beachwood, Ohio-based Stratos Wealth Partners expanded its stake in Clinton, Iowa-based First Wealth Financial Group into majority ownership. First Wealth services more than $348 million in client brokerage and advisory assets. Stratos oversees a total of $16.5 billion in advisory, brokerage and third-party managed assets across 275 independent advisors and 87 locations nationwide.

Andrew Meyers, an advisor with First Wealth since 2011 who recently assumed a leadership position as part of a planned succession process, became President of the firm after the unexpected death of First Wealth Founder and CEO Breton Williams. First Wealth provides investment management, retirement, estate, pension and tax-aware planning for clients.

“I want to assure our clients that First Wealth’s team of advisors and staff is committed to providing the valued investment advice and financial planning care they have become accustomed to,” Meyers said in the press release. “Our strengthened partnership with Stratos will allow us to build an even greater business and provide additional services to these loyal clients.”

To learn more, view the press release here.

4. Ritholtz Wealth To Acquire Book Of BlackRock’s $1.7 Billion Robo FutureAdvisor 

Barry Ritholtz, Chairman and CIO, Ritholtz Wealth Management

New York-based Ritholtz Wealth Management, an RIA overseeing more than $2.7 billion in AUM, agreed to acquire the book of business of BlackRock’s soon-to-be-shuttered FutureAdvisor robo platform, which has over $1.7 billion in assets, according to news reports. 

Blackrock acquired FutureAdvisor in 2015, initially positioning it as a way to meet the needs of banks, insurers, broker-dealers, 401(k) platforms and other firms seeking a digital-advice platform to increase customer loyalty and advisory assets. At the time, FutureAdvisor was backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. 

“Ritholtz expects that FutureAdvisor clients will seamlessly transition to Ritholtz, where they’ll receive access to dedicated goals-based financial planning and cutting-edge technology,” Ritholtz was quoted as saying in WealthManagement.com.

“We are proud of having served FutureAdvisor clients over the last 8 years and are confident that Ritholtz, a national, multi-billion-dollar wealth management firm, has the ability to meet the demands of clients seeking digital solutions for their investing needs,” BlackRock was quoted as saying in Citywire RIA.

5. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice To Acquire Focus Financial Partners For $7 Billion

Affiliates of the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) agreed to acquire Focus Financial Partners, a publicly traded company that supports independent fiduciary wealth management firms, in an all-cash deal with an enterprise value of over $7 billion.

Funds managed by the private equity firm Stone Point Capital agreed to keep some of their investment in Focus Financial Partners and provide new equity financing as part of the transaction. Focus, which was founded in 2004 and went public in 2018, operates in five countries and has more than 85 partner firms.

“Focus represents an outstanding collection of leading RIAs and business managers, and our investment is predicated on having greater financial and operating flexibility as a private company in order to support and drive collaboration amongst these entrepreneurial partners,” CD&R Partner David Winokur said in the press release.

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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