Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Miracle Mile, Carson Group, Summit, Stifel And More

WPCG And HGGC Invest In True North. Cetera Invests In Wilde Wealth. Carson Group Brings On 31 Firms In 2023. Summit, Stifel And LPL Announce Recruitments. Prospera Launches Family Office Services. Stratos Hires Chief Market Strategist. And Miracle Mile CEO Bruce Milam Is Our Newest Recruiter Of The Month.
Bruce Milam, CEO, Miracle Mile Advisors
Bruce Milam, CEO, Miracle Mile Advisors
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup features our newest Recruiter Of The Month. We speak with Bruce Milam, CEO of Miracle Mile Advisors, on its expansion plans after opening an office in Seattle, the firm’s sixth location.

This week’s deals also include WPCG and HGGC taking a minority stake in True North Advisors, Cetera making a minority investment in Wilde Wealth Management, Carson Group bringing on 31 firms in 2023, Summit Financial recruiting the all-woman team Oracle Private Wealth Advisors, Stifel Independent Advisors recruiting Stofan Agazzi Investments, LPL amassing over $1.3 billion in January recruitments, Prospera launching family office services and Stratos appointing Malcolm Polley as its Chief Market Strategist.

Larry’s Take

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

With interest rates still keeping the cost of capital relatively high, minority stakes may hold greater appeal to certain private equity firms and large wealth management firms that are looking to invest in growth-oriented businesses.

Owners considering a partial sale to a PE firm tend to prefer buyers with a proven track record of helping firms grow while also allowing them to maintain operational independence. When it comes to strategic buyers, sellers may find comfort with building on pre-existing partnerships or affiliations. It also doesn’t hurt for the would-be minority stakeholder to have a CEO who is widely recognized as an industry leader.

These factors contributed to the deals featured in our M&A coverage below involving WPCG and HGGC, Cetera, as well as Carson Group. Even if the Fed does cut rates this year, more minority stake investments are sure to take shape as 2024 continues.

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. WPCG And HGGC Take Minority Stake In $3.3 Billion True North Advisors

Scott Wood, CEO and Co-Founder, True North Advisors
Scott Wood, CEO and Co-Founder, True North Advisors

Dallas-based True North Advisors received a minority equity investment from Wealth Partners Capital Group (WPCG) and HGGC’s Aspire Holdings platform. Scott Wood and Mark Gehlbach founded True North in 2000. The RIA has over $3.3 billion in assets under management (AUM).

True North aims to use the investment to expand its presence in Texas and the Southwest. The RIA serves business owners, entrepreneurs and families. Its services include wealth planning, investment management and business transaction planning solutions. True North also oversees the turnkey private investment platform Western Alternative Strategies.

“We are confident that this partnership will open up new opportunities for growth, creativity and success,” said Gehlbach, President of True North. “WPCG’s expertise in identifying strategic opportunities will undoubtedly enrich the depth and breadth of our core offerings, providing our clients with even more comprehensive solutions,” added Scott Wood, CEO of True North.

2. Cetera Makes Minority Investment In $2.8 Billion Wilde Wealth Management

Trevor Wilde, Co-Founder and CEO, Wilde Wealth Management Group
Trevor Wilde, Co-Founder and CEO, Wilde Wealth Management Group

Cetera Financial Group completed a minority investment in Scottsdale, Arizona-based Wilde Wealth Management Group, which has over $2.8 billion in assets under administration and operates as an OSJ for more than 42 advisors with nine locations across the Southwest. It serves clients with a holistic approach including legacy planning, tax planning and investment management.

Advisors with Wilde Wealth have been affiliated with Cetera Advisors since 2007. Cetera is partnering with advisors to provide succession solutions such as advisor-to-advisor support, business continuity, and full or partial sale options based on advisor preferences for ongoing affiliation and involvement in the practice. Cetera has completed more than 12 such transactions in the past year.

“I am thrilled about the transformative impact our enhanced partnership with Cetera will bring, propelling our growing platform to become the preferred destination for top-tier advisors and high net worth clients alike,” said Trevor Wilde, Co-Founder and CEO of Wilde Wealth. “We look forward to serving clients and strategically growing our business together with Cetera for years to come.”

3. Carson Group Brings On 31 Firms, Boosts AUM By $3.6 Billion In 2023

Gregg Johnson, National Sales Director, Carson Group
Gregg Johnson, National Sales Director, Carson Group

Omaha, Nebraska-based Carson Group brought on 31 firms through acquisition, direct partnership and partner growth in deals that added $3.6 billion in AUM last year, its biggest ever annual growth streak. As a result, Carson Group’s total AUM surpassed $33 billion across more than 49,000 families.

Carson Group’s deals in 2023 included Columbia, Maryland-based FAI Wealth Management; Overland Park, Kansas-based Integrated Wealth; Lake Oswego, Oregon-based Northwest Capital Management; Milton, Georgia-based Main Street Financial Group; Hastings, Nebraska-based Oakeson Steiner Wealth & Retirement; and Billings, Montana-based Arbor Point Advisors.

“This growth not only reflects our commitment to excellence, but also highlights the fact that advisors value the long-term vision of Carson and the community of like-minded advisors and stakeholders that model the client-first mentality,” said Gregg Johnson, National Sales Director. “At Carson Group, we believe in empowering advisors to thrive, and our 2023 achievements underscore the potential for mutual success and solidifies our position as a leading force in the financial advisory space.”

Advisor Transactions

4. Summit Recruits $300 Million All-Woman Team Oracle Private Wealth

Parsippany, New Jersey-based Summit Financial Holdings recruited Lutherville, Maryland-based Oracle Private Wealth Advisors, an all-woman team with over $300 million in AUM. Oracle provides investment strategies, wealth transfer and estate planning, charitable gifting techniques and tax management.

Formerly known as Oracle Capital Strategies, the team consists of Audrey Drossner, Founding Member; Margaret “Meg” Anderson, Director, Private Client Advisory; Julia Vaughn, Director, Wealth Planning; Diana Cooper, Client Manager; and Karen Sanchez, Client Service Manager. Oracle joined Summit Growth Partners, a partnership that combines cash monetization with equity participation and exclusive privileges.

The Oracle team, from left: Karen Sanchez, Audrey Drossner, Meg Anderson and Julie Vaughn
The Oracle team, from left: Karen Sanchez, Audrey Drossner, Meg Anderson and Julie Vaughn

“By adding Summit’s premier set of resources to our practice, we are better equipped to grow and protect our clients’ wealth,” Drossner said. “Furthermore, the ability to leverage the expertise of those on the professional strategy team at Summit enables us to thoughtfully deepen and scale our client relationships.”

5. Stifel Independent Advisors Recruits $650 Million Stofan Agazzi Investments

Mark Stofan, President, Stofan Agazzi Investments
Mark Stofan, President, Stofan Agazzi Investments

St. Louis-based Stifel Financial announced that its subsidiary, independent channel broker-dealer Stifel Independent Advisors, recruited Joliet, Illinois-based Stofan Agazzi Investments. The firm comes from LPL Financial, where it oversaw $650 million in assets.

Mark Stofan, the firm’s President, joins Stifel along with advisors George Stofan, Carroll Klotz, Irene Celander, Jessica Martin, Daniel Murphy and Ron Lambert. As of October, Stifel Independent Advisors oversaw $6.5 billion in AUM. Last year, its recruitments included ARC Wealth Management from Salt Lake City, Utah; BT Legacy Wealth Management from St. Petersburg, Florida; and Client First Financial from Colts Neck, New Jersey.

“After performing extensive due diligence, it became clear that Stifel Independent Advisors offers the best platform for us to continue our growth trajectory while delivering the best possible service to our clients,” Stofan said. “Stifel Independent Advisors has the deep resources, long-term perspective, and experience of a firm that has been around for more than 130 years, with a level of attention and support that we did not find at any other firm.”

6. LPL’s January Recruitment Announcements Surpass $1.3 Billion

Wayne Maier, Founder, Maier & Associates Financial Group
Wayne Maier, Founder, Maier & Associates Financial Group

LPL Financial recruited Bay City, Michigan-based Maier & Associates Financial Group, which oversees approximately $615 million in assets and joins from Raymond James. Wayne Maier founded the firm in 1984. His team includes advisors Joseph Maier, Michael Wilcox, Greg Dahlberg, Sharyn Dansa and Logan Maier, paraplanners Adam Wohlschied and Bret Naylor, CFO Laura Maier and seven support staffers.

In January, LPL also announced recruiting Chicagoland-based Andrew Kutanovski; Roseland, New Jersey-based Marvin Goldman; Burlington, Massachusetts-based Peter Manning; and Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Zachary Fiandt. Their advisory practices collectively oversee more than $715 million.

“At Maier & Associates, when we say the client comes first it’s not a cliché. This is who we are,” Wayne Maier said. “Everything we do is to help our clients build wealth and plan for the future based on their comfort level, with their best interests in mind. We tell our clients, ‘When you invest with our company, you’re partnering with a family that will manage its money like it’s managing its own.’ ”

Strategic Partnerships

7. Prospera Launches Generational Wealth Program For Family Office Services

Tarah Williams, President and COO, Prospera Financial Services
Tarah Williams, President and COO, Prospera Financial Services

Dallas-based broker-dealer Prospera Financial Services launched the Prospera Generational Wealth Platform, a support team for family office services that helps advisors find opportunities and design sophisticated strategies for ultra-high net worth clients.

Its services encompass accounting, banking and private credit; asset protection and risk management; business valuation and succession planning; estate and wealth transfer; family governance, continuity and education; integrated financial and wealth strategy; investment management; philanthropy strategy and management; and tax strategy and compliance.

“A growing number of our advisors’ clients have expressed a need for family office services,” said Tarah Williams, President and Chief Operating Officer at Prospera. “Now with Prospera Generational Wealth, our advisors have the same tools, solutions and recourse of any of the mega-firms as well as our steadfast commitment to deliver high-touch, personalized advisor support.”

Promotions & People Moves

8. Stratos Appoints Malcolm Polley As Chief Market Strategist

Malcolm Polley, Chief Market Strategist, Stratos Investment Management
Malcolm Polley, Chief Market Strategist, Stratos Investment Management

Stratos Wealth Holdings appointed Malcolm Polley as Chief Market Strategist for Stratos Investment Management, formerly known as Fundamentum. He will work with Stratos-affiliated advisors to provide insight, guidance and analysis for strategic decision-making within portfolio and asset allocations for clients across the Stratos family of firms.

Polley has over 35 years of experience. He most recently served as President and Chief Investment Officer of Stewart Capital Advisors. Polly previously worked at Marquette Trust Company, Marquette Advisory Services, West Bank and S&T Wealth Management. In August, Stratos named Phil Nuttall as Chief Operating Officer. Nuttall previously served as SVP, Enterprise Alliances at LPL.

“When I considered my next step, I wanted to find a professional home that would be able to utilize my experience to drive value for advisors and clients alike,” Polley said. “I’m thrilled to be joining Stratos Investment Management, as it continues to grow and evolve to fit the needs of the modern financial services and advisory industries.”


Recruiter Of The Month

Bruce Milam, CEO, Miracle Mile Advisors

Los Angeles-based RIA Miracle Mile Advisors announced the opening of its Seattle office as it takes its financial advisor recruitment initiative to a sixth location. Founded in 2007, Miracle Mile has over $5 billion in client assets and more than 25 advisors.

After merging with Karp Capital Management and receiving private equity investment from Corsair Capital, Miracle Mile appointed Bruce Milam as its first CEO. Milam previously served as COO at Seattle-based Freestone Capital Management, where he led the firm to a threefold growth in AUM to over $8 billion.

And now for our Q&A with Bruce Milam, CEO of Miracle Mile Advisors.

WSR: What is Miracle Mile’s advisor recruitment and equity ownership growth strategy for 2024? Might it include M&A?

Milam: As we look forward to the rest of this year, we are focused on expanding our footprint in our key markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Portland, San Diego and now Seattle. We are looking for established and growth advisors seeking a firm with a great culture, a valuable equity offering and a comprehensive wealth management offering that allows them to provide best of class service to clients. We are also excited for potential M&A opportunities, looking for firms with a shared growth mindset interested a complementary partnership.

WSR: What does Miracle Mile do differently than other firms to stand out, and what type of advisor is an ideal recruitment candidate?

Milam: I think the market for talent is incredibly competitive right now – with growing firms looking for best-in-class advisors, financial planning, client service and investment professionals in an ever-shrinking pool of experienced leaders. An ideal candidate for us is someone that really wants to deliver their best to clients, shares our drive and thrives in a collaborative, vibrant culture. We believe Miracle Mile delivers real opportunities for these candidates in the form of career path, training and education, as well as competitive compensation and meaningful equity.

WSR: What role will you play, as CEO, in Miracle Mile’s future advisor recruitment and/or M&A processes?

Milam: I have always had a passion for finding and developing talent and we have worked to establish a strong company foundation that provides opportunity to our employees while always delivering best-in-class services to our clients. Whether we are focusing on recruiting talent or M&A opportunities, we believe in a culture that drives growth from a position of collaboration, support and trust across all Miracle Mile team members. As the CEO, my job is to foster this culture while seeking new candidates and partnerships that share, and ultimately enhance, these values.

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

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