Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Hightower, MAI, Diversify, Sanctuary And More

Diversify And MAI Acquire Firms. Hightower Invests In CMG. Atria Subsidiaries Form And Renew 32 Partnerships. The AmeriFlex Group Onboards 60 Advisors. Cambridge Launches RIA. Sanctuary Recruits From RBC, Merrill Lynch. Realta Appoints New COO.
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup covers the launch of Diversify Wealth Management with three acquisitions representing $2.1 billion, MAI acquiring $1.4 billion Madison Wealth Management, Hightower investing in $3.3 billion CMG, Atria’s subsidiaries forming and renewing 32 partnerships last year, The AmeriFlex Group bringing on 60 advisors in 2023, Cambridge launching $1 billion BridgePort Financial Solutions, Sanctuary Wealth recruiting from RBC and Merrill Lynch, and Realta Wealth appointing Mark Helliker as COO.

Larry’s Take

Larry Roth, CEO, Wealth Solutions Report
Larry Roth, CEO, Wealth Solutions Report

The firms that we feature as conducting M&A in this week’s roundup demonstrate how valuable it is for acquirers in the independent space to expand their geographic footprints, and how crucial it is for them to provide desirable target firms in those strategic locations with meaningful long-term support.

Since many would-be acquirers can write a big check, and most sellers genuinely care about their legacy with both their clients and colleagues, they need reason to believe that their firms will be in good – if not better – hands after the deal closes.

Therefore, acquirers also must compete through their level of institutional-quality services and flexible infrastructures. That is especially the case when wooing targets in cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., where RIAs themselves already face stiff competition for high net worth clients, including against resource-rich wirehouses.

If you would like to discuss this Larry’s Take further, including how these trends might impact your business, please contact me at larry.roth@rlrstrategicpartners.com.

Mergers & Acquisitions

1. Diversify Advisor Network Launches RIA, Acquires 3 Firms

Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Diversify Advisor Network
Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Diversify Advisor Network

Sandy, Utah-based Diversify Advisor Network launched Diversify Wealth Management, a W-2 employee-affiliation RIA that targets advisors who seek to monetize their practices and take equity alongside the founders. Diversify Wealth Management’s first acquisitions include the Utah-based firms Caliber Wealth Management, FirstPurpose Wealth and Diversify, Inc., which collectively oversee approximately $2.1 billion in assets.

Diversify Advisor Network has over $7 billion in assets across DFPG Investments, a full-service independent broker-dealer for advisors in the network; Diversify Advisory Services, an RIA platform that provides institutional quality services and resources to independent investment advisors; and Diversify Wealth Management.

“With the launch of Diversify Wealth Management and the acquisition of these three great practices, we’ve wasted no time executing our strategy of developing a multi-platform affiliation model – and there are more coming,” said Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Diversify Advisor Network. “We are focused on giving advisors choice and flexibility, in a boutique environment with institutional-quality resources.”

2. MAI Acquires $1.4 Billion Madison Wealth In Cincinnati

Rick Buoncore, Managing Partner, MAI Capital Management
Rick Buoncore, Managing Partner, MAI Capital Management

Cleveland-based MAI Capital Management acquired Cincinnati-based Madison Wealth Management, which has over $1.4 billion in assets under management (AUM) and offices inthe Washington, D.C., metro area. MAI has 27 offices nationwide and as of Dec. 29 its AUM totaled $18.8 billion.

Madison will receive infrastructure support from MAI including human resources, operations and marketing resources. Madison Co-Founder and President Jim McDermott, and its Chief Investment Officer, Ed Kuresman, both will become Regional Presidents at MAI. Effective Jan. 5, the deal is MAI’s 33rd acquisition.

“This partnership underscores MAI’s commitment to partnering with experienced professionals who share our client-first philosophy,” said Rick Buoncore, Managing Partner at MAI. “The Madison team has demonstrated not only growth and success across two major metros, but also a dedication to their communities that we at MAI share.”

3. Hightower Invests In $3.3 Billion New York-Based Firm

Bob Oros, Chairman & CEO, Hightower Advisors
Bob Oros, Chairman & CEO, Hightower Advisors

Chicago-based Hightower Advisors announced that it made a strategic investment in Capital Management Group of New York (CMG), which has $3.3 billion in assets and offices in New York City and Pearl River, New York. The firm has six co-owner partners and six other advisors, with 38 team members in total. It was previously affiliated with Equitable Advisors.

CMG is Hightower’s first announced transaction of 2024, following 12 announced transactions in 2023, and is the fifth wealth manager formerly affiliated with an IBD in which Hightower has both made a strategic investment and onboarded the firm to its network. Hightower had assets under management (AUM) of $131 billion as of Sept. 30, and its community of advisors now spans 138 businesses.

“Capital Management Group of New York has a reputation for creating sophisticated financial plans, and building lasting relationships, that help their clients meet their holistic wealth needs over the short and long term,” said Bob Oros, Chairman and CEO of Hightower. “They are in a pivotal growth phase and Hightower can provide new opportunities for their business by providing additional capabilities aimed to enhance both the advisor and client experiences.”

Advisor Transactions

4. Atria Subsidiaries Form And Renew 32 Partnerships For 2023

Kevin Mummau, Co-Head of Financial Institution channel, Atria Wealth Solutions
Kevin Mummau, Co-Head of Financial Institution channel, Atria Wealth Solutions

Atria Wealth Solutions’ broker-dealer subsidiaries focused on the financial institutions space, CUSO Financial Services (CFS) and Sorrento Pacific Financial (SPF), announced they formed 16 new partnerships and renewed 16 partnerships with banks and credit unions in 2023. The new and renewed partners have a combined asset base of $240 billion, with nearly 15 million financial institution members and clients.

CFS and SPF have over $40 billion in assets under administration (AUA), serving more than 200 banks and credit unions. Atria’s other subsidiaries include Cadaret Grant, NEXT Financial Group, Western International Securities, SCF Securities and Grove Point Financial, which it acquired in September. Atria serves almost 2,700 professionals with close to $120 billion in AUA.

Kevin Mummau, Co-Head of Atria’s Financial Institution channel, said, “In their partnerships with our firm, these forward-thinking institutions gain access to a robust suite of products and solutions tailored to their unique needs. Our blend of technology, intellectual expertise and product solutions, coupled with unparalleled execution, ensures the highest level of service and support.”

5. The AmeriFlex Group Brings On 60 Advisors, $2.8 Billion In 2023

Thomas Goodson, Founder and CEO, The AmeriFlex Group
Thomas Goodson, Founder and CEO, The AmeriFlex Group

Last year, The AmeriFlex Group brought on 60 advisors who collectively oversee more than $2.75 billion in client assets. The advisor-owned hybrid RIA ended 2023 with 153 total advisors in 29 states who oversee approximately $9.5 billion in AUA, a 56% increase from 2022.

In September, the firm announced the launch of The AmeriFlex Group X, a program to help smaller OSJ practices take full advantage of its scale and resources. Through SuccessionFlex, advisors can authorize a succession and continuity agreement with an option to sell 30% to 40% of their current revenue stream to the firm. The AmeriFlex Premier+ platform provides affiliated advisors with a proprietary, tech-based financial planning solution.

“We are committed to providing innovative programs that solve many of the most pressing issues facing advisors today,” said Thomas Goodson, Founder and CEO of The AmeriFlex Group. “Through SuccessionFlex, the AmeriFlex Premier+ platform, and our best-in-class personal support, we have continued to drive significant growth every year and we are thrilled to be the destination of choice for so many of the industry’s top advisors.”

Strategic Partnerships

6. Cambridge Launches $1 Billion RIA BridgePort For Smaller Firms

Jeff Vivacqua, President of Growth and Development, Cambridge
Jeff Vivacqua, President of Growth and Development, Cambridge

Cambridge launched BridgePort Financial Solutions, a fee-only RIA with over $1 billion in AUA, designed to support smaller independent advisory firms with technology, succession and acquisition, practice management, business consulting and outsourcing solutions.

BridgePort will focus on strategic acquisitions and enable advisors to transfer a minority, majority or a full ownership stake in their business. Eddie Rollins, who previously was a partner at Horizon Investments, will serve as BridgePort’s Managing Director. Cambridge also includes the corporate RIA Cambridge Investment Research Advisors and the independent broker-dealer Cambridge Investment Research.

“We created BridgePort with the smaller RIA business owner in mind; for many firms that fall into this category, it may make sense to streamline operations and accelerate their growth pattern by becoming part of a larger group,” said Jeff Vivacqua, President of Growth and Development at Cambridge. “That is why we created this standalone firm, it is a different business model than Cambridge. BridgePort is our newest solution for fee-only financial advisors interested in taking that next step.”

Promotions & People Moves

7. Sanctuary Recruits Laurie Burkhard From RBC, Rachel Carter From Merrill Lynch

Laurie Burkhard, Director and Head of Business Consulting, Sanctuary Wealth
Laurie Burkhard, Director and Head of Business Consulting, Sanctuary Wealth

Sanctuary Wealth appointed Laurie Burkhard as a Director and Head of Business Consulting, a newly created division. The firm also recruited Rachel Carter, a Senior Retirement Benefits Consultant dedicated to corporate retirement plans.

Burkhard, who has nearly 30 years of industry experience, previously was Senior Practice Management and Teams Consultant at RBC Wealth Management. Before that, she was a Senior Business Consultant at Securities America. Carter most recently served as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch for nearly a decade. The Sanctuary Wealth network of partner firms has approximately $28 billion in assets under advisement.

“I’m thrilled to begin the next phase of my career at Sanctuary,” Burkhard said. “There is so much going on at the firm and they have such great growth momentum. I enjoy working with highly successful advisors, learning about their businesses and approach to clients, and then finding ways to help them achieve even greater success.”

8. Realta Wealth Appoints Mark Helliker As COO

Mark Helliker, Chief Operating Officer, Realta Wealth
Mark Helliker, Chief Operating Officer, Realta Wealth

Independent broker-dealer and RIA platform Realta Wealth, formerly known as CoastalOne, appointed Mark Helliker as Chief Operating Officer reporting directly to CEO Kevin Keefe. Helliker will identify and evaluate growth opportunities, product solutions and strategic partnerships, and lead initiatives to attract high-quality advisors and practices.

Helliker has more than 30 years of financial services experience. Most recently, he provided executive consultant services to clients including Avantax, where he also served as interim COO. Earlier, he was a Managing Director and Management Committee member at LPL Financial, and a Senior Vice President, Advisor Services at Charles Schwab.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to join a wealth management firm that is truly committed to delivering an extremely personalized, high-touch service experience to their advisors,” Helliker said. “In an industry where the big keeps getting bigger and achieving greater scale seems to be the only goal, Realta’s priority is creating a platform and environment where advisors can succeed and serve their clients with distinction.”

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

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