Recruitment Roundup: Kestra, tru Independence, LaSalle St. And More

Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Commonwealth Recruits R&R Wealth, tru Independence Helps Launch 44 North, Johnson Financial To Acquire The Appleton Group, Bluespring Acquires Christopher Street, Carlyle Invests In CAPTRUST, LaSalle St. Taps Live Oak Bank For Growth Capital, LPL Expands Liquidity & Succession Program And Bryn Mawr Trust Recruits Jamie Hopkins

This edition of the Weekly Recruitment Roundup features Commonwealth recruiting R&R Wealth from Avantax, tru Independence helping Merrill Lynch breakaways launch 44 North Capital, Johnson Financial Group acquiring The Appleton Group, Kestra’s Bluespring Wealth Partners acquiring LGBTQ+ focused Christopher Street Financial, global investment firm Carlyle taking a minority stake in CAPTRUST, LaSalle St. tapping Live Oak Bank for strategic growth capital, LPL Financial expanding its Liquidity & Succession Program to non-affiliated advisors and Bryn Mawr Trust recruiting Jamie Hopkins from Carson Group.

Advisor Transactions

1. Commonwealth Recruits Wisconsin-Based R&R Wealth From Avantax

Robert Holton, Senior Financial Advisor, R&R Wealth Management

Commonwealth Financial Network recruited Waukesha, Wisconsin-based R&R Wealth Management from Avantax Investment Services. Senior Financial Advisors Robert Holton and Tom Driscoll brought their six-person team, which oversees nearly $223 million in assets under advisement (AUA).

In addition to providing holistic planning such as investment management, financial planning and complex life insurance solutions, R&R Wealth also specializes in employee-sponsored retirement plan support. Cetera Holdings recently agreed to acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Avantax in a cash transaction valued at approximately $1.2 billion.

“We want to build our business to $1 billion in assets over the next four years, and that growth trajectory needs a partner who can support our goals,” Holton said. “We feel strongly that Commonwealth is the ideal partner as we grow both organically and through acquisitions, and it will help us become the premier wealth management firm for business owners in Wisconsin.”

2. tru Independence Helps Merrill Lynch Breakaways Launch 44 North Capital

Jonathan Landry, Founder & Managing Partner, 44 North Capital

Two Burlington, Vermont-based advisors broke away from Merrill Lynch to launch 44 North Capital on the tru Independence platform. The new RIA oversees approximately $165 million in client assets. Jonathan Landry, Founder and Managing Partner, along with Lexie Forest, Director of Financial Management and Planning, are supported by Billie Crane, Senior Associate, Client Service.

Landry, a former NHL defenseman, served for 12 years as part of the Wheel Landry Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. The deal marks the fifth such partnership so far in 2023 for tru Independence, which has approximately $10.5 billion on its platform. tru’s annual advisor conference, Canvas 2023, is scheduled to occur Oct. 18 to Oct. 20 in Phoenix.

“Launching 44 North marks the beginning of an exciting journey,” Landry said. “Having a partner like tru just as focused on the client experience as we are, makes us confident that we will be able to provide more services than before and a better overall experience for our clients.”

Mergers & Acquisitions

3. Johnson Financial Group Agrees To Acquire The Appleton Group

Brian Andrew, Chief Investment Officer and President, Johnson Wealth

Racine, Wisconsin-based Johnson Financial Group (JFG) agreed to acquire Appleton, Wisconsin-based The Appleton Group, a fee-only firm overseeing $210 million in assets under management (AUM). JFG’s RIA, Johnson Wealth, has $9.5 billion in AUM.

Mark Scheffler founded the Appleton Group in 2002. The seven-person team serves private clients, employer-sponsored retirement plans, nonprofit endowments and financial institutions. DeVoe & Company advised JFG on the transaction. JFG’s principal owners are members of the Samuel C. Johnson family, which owns the privately held multinational company SC Johnson.

“Mark Scheffler and the six employees of the Appleton Group share our values and our culture of serving our clients, our employees and our communities,” said Brian Andrew, Chief Investment Officer and President of Johnson Wealth. “This acquisition will expand our footprint in the Northeast and complement other recent efforts to build our presence in Milwaukee, Madison and Appleton.”

4. Kestra’s Bluespring Acquires LGBTQ+ Focused Christopher Street Financial

Stuart Silverman, Chairman, Bluespring Wealth Partners

Austin, Texas-based Bluespring Wealth Partners, a Kestra Holdings subsidiary, acquired New York-based Christopher Street Financial, which oversees approximately $700 million in client assets. Christopher Street Financial has had an association with Kestra Financial for 15 years. Bluespring plans to further support it with consulting and business development resources.

Christopher Street Financial specializes in holistic financial planning for LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families while also serving clients from all communities in alignment with its values. In addition, the investment firm supports charitable organizations serving the LGBTQ+ community and other social justice issues.

“We are eager to elevate Christopher Street Financial in the marketplace and provide them with the resources and expertise necessary to reach more clients nationwide,” said Stuart Silverman, Chairman of Bluespring Wealth Partners. “Welcoming Christopher Street, whose values of inclusivity and high-caliber client service align with our own, allows us to propel the firm toward new avenues of success.”

5. Carlyle Invests In CAPTRUST, Joining GTCR As Minority Stakeholder

Jim Burr, Head of Global Financial Services, Carlyle

Global investment firm Carlyle is taking a minority investment in Raleigh, North Carolina-based CAPTRUST Financial Advisors. The private equity firm GTCR, which invested in CAPTRUST in 2020, will maintain a minority stake. CAPTRUST’s valuation is estimated at more than $3.7 billion.

CAPTRUST has nearly 1,500 employees across 85 locations nationwide and manages over $832 billion in client assets. The firm serves households, retirement plan sponsors, endowments, foundations and religious entities. Carlyle had $385 billion in AUM as of June 30 and employs more than 2,200 people in 29 offices across five continents. GTCR manages over $35 billion in equity capital.

“CAPTRUST is one of the premier brands within the RIA industry, with a deep bench of expertise and resources that support a premium and ever-expanding service model,” said Jim Burr, Head of Global Financial Services at Carlyle. “The firm has the unique position of leveraging its size and scale to benefit not only clients, but also to benefit the communities it serves.”

Strategic Partnerships

6. LaSalle St. Taps Live Oak Bank To Boost Recruiting, Succession Planning And M&A

Mark Contey, Chief Marketing Officer, LaSalle St.

Chicago-based LaSalle St. established a relationship with Wilmington, North Carolina-based Live Oak Bank for access to additional capital that can assist the wealth management firm’s growth strategy. LaSalle supports more than 300 financial advisors and manages over $12 billion in client assets. Its services include brokerage, advisory, investment and insurance.

Live Oak is a digitally focused, FDIC-insured bank whose clients include other wealth management firms. The bank launched its advisor lending business in 2013, and as of July the group had closed approximately $1.25 billion. Live Oak was the nation’s top Small Business Administration 7(a) lender by dollar amount for 2022.

“We established this relationship with Live Oak Bank to take advantage of the opportunities we see in the market,” said Mark Contey, Chief Marketing Officer at LaSalle St. “By fostering this relationship with a trusted industry partner, LaSalle St. can continue to offer options that allow the firm to move quickly and provide compelling solutions as we drive our growth through recruiting, succession planning and M&A.”

7. LPL Expands Liquidity & Succession Program To Non-Affiliated Advisors

Jeremy Holly, EVP, Strategic Business Development, LPL Financial

LPL Financial expanded its Liquidity & Succession program, which it launched last year for LPL-affiliated advisors looking to sell their practices, by also making it available to advisors who are not affiliated with the company. The program is open to advisors at any stage of their career, but focused on those who plan to retire within three to seven years.

It utilizes M&A transactions to enable advisors to maintain their brand, investment philosophy and client service model – while gaining LPL’s strategic and operational support through a W2 model that lets advisors offload their business operating duties. The program aims to offer competitive valuations and a transparent payout structure, according to LPL.

“LPL Liquidity & Succession provides advisors with the resources, support and tools necessary to let them get back to the parts of the business they love,” said Jeremy Holly, Executive Vice President, Strategic Business Development at LPL. “By cultivating these partnerships, LPL allows advisors to build a targeted and comprehensive strategy for the next evolution of their business.”

Promotions & People Moves

8. Bryn Mawr Trust Recruits Jamie Hopkins As Director of Private Wealth Management

Jamie Hopkins, SVP, Director of Private Wealth Management, Bryn Mawr Trust, effective Oct. 1

Bryn Mawr Trust, a subsidiary of WSFS Financial Corporation, named Jamie Hopkins as Senior Vice President, Director of Private Wealth Management, effective Oct. 1. He previously was Managing Partner of Wealth Solutions at Carson Group.

Earlier in his career, Hopkins served as Director of Retirement Research at The American College of Financial Services. He also is the founder of the nonprofit FinServ Foundation, which provides coaching, internship and leadership programs to help foster the next generation of financial professionals. Hopkins recently spoke at the second annual Future Proof Festival in Huntington Beach, California.

“I am extremely excited to be joining such an amazing team at Bryn Mawr Trust that puts clients first and is a leader in our community,” Hopkins said. “My personal mission is to enhance the financial security of Americans and I will bring that passion, care and trust to clients and the team.”

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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