The WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards Deal of the Year honors the top three wealth management M&A deals of the year based on their size and strategic importance. There is a minimum asset level of $10 billion and a minimum headcount of 100 advisors. Deals are selected based on their impact and importance to the industry as well as how they reflect ongoing industry trends.
Cetera Acquires Avantax
In September, Avantax and Cetera Financial Group announced an agreement between Avantax and Aretec Group, Cetera’s holding company that does business as Cetera Holdings, whereby Cetera Holdings would acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Avantax in a cash transaction valued at approximately $1.2 billion. Avantax delivers tax-focused financial planning and wealth management solutions for financial professionals, tax professionals and CPA firms.
Cetera Financial Group agreed to keep Avantax’s clearing and custody relationships, core technology, product offerings and legal entities. Common stockholders of Avantax were to receive $26 per share, representing a premium of approximately 30% to the Sept. 8 closing price. The acquisition was completed in November. Morgan Stanley served as financial advisor to Cetera, with UBS Investment Bank and BMO Capital Markets serving as co-advisors.
As of Sept. 30, Avantax had 3,111 financial professionals, representing $82.3 billion in assets under administration and $42 billion in assets under management (AUM), including Avantax Planning Partners, an employee-based RIA with over $7.8 billion in AUM. As of Sept. 25, Cetera’s more than 9,000 financial professionals and their teams oversaw approximately $374 billion in assets under administration and $145 billion in AUM.
Creative Planning Acquires Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management
In August, Creative Planning agreed to acquire Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management, the Goldman Sachs mass affluent-focused advisory group that originated with Goldman’s acquisition of United Capital in 2019. As a result of the deal, which closed in November, the group revived the United Capital brand name.
Approximately 125 former Goldman advisors, overseeing approximately $20 billion in AUM, reportedly signed employment agreements with Creative Planning. It also entered into a multi-billion-dollar strategic relationship last year with the Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions (GSAS) custodian services unit. That arrangement enables Creative Planning to provide GSAS’ custody solutions to their clients, including its lending platform, product offerings, advanced analytics, and digitized middle and back office for alternative investments.
As of July 1, Creative Planning oversaw more than $245 billion in assets under management and advisement. The Overland Park, Kansas-based RIA provides a financial planning led investment management approach, retirement planning, estate planning, trust services, tax planning and family office services for individuals as well as 401(k) and institutional clients.
Osaic Acquires Lincoln Wealth
In December, Osaic agreed to acquire Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation (LFA) and Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation (LFS), the broker-dealer and RIA firms that comprise Lincoln Wealth, from Lincoln National Corporation, which, with affiliates, also is known by its marketing name, Lincoln Financial Group. As of June 30, Lincoln Wealth consisted of approximately 1,450 advisors and oversaw approximately $108 billion in assets. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2024.
Osaic is a portfolio company of Reverence Capital Partners. It has approximately $506 billion in assets and supports approximately 10,500 financial professionals. The acquisition aims to require minimal to no repapering and no change to account numbers. Lincoln Wealth’s leadership team and employees supporting the business will join Osaic intact as standalone entities after the close of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals. Lincoln will retain its wholesale distribution franchise, Lincoln Financial Distributors (LFD), and its channel of independent agents will become part of LFD.
Lincoln National Corporation has been a strategic partner to Osaic for over a decade and the firms plan to continue to expand their partnership. LFD will expand its distribution relationship with Osaic, including the professionals transitioning to Osaic in this transaction and other professionals in Osaic’s network. Osaic, formerly known as Advisor Group, also is a winner of the WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards Wealth Management Enterprise of the Year.
Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com