Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Robertson Stephens, Modern Wealth, Equitable And More

Acquisitions By Mercer, MAI, Beacon Pointe, Perigon, Robertson Stephens, Modern Wealth And Householder Group. Advisor Recruitments By Compound Planning, Osaic, Equitable And Savvy. RFG Makes 3 Executive Appointments.

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup covers Mercer acquiring MDK Private Wealth Management, MAI acquiring LWS Wealth Advisors, Beacon Pointe acquiring Keeney Financial Group, Perigon acquiring Blue Water Capital Management and Lumin Financial, Robertson Stephens acquiring The Thrush Group, Modern Wealth Management acquiring Beltz Ianni & Associates, Householder Group acquiring American Financial Services and The IRA Specialists, Compound Planning recruiting six advisors, Osaic recruiting Cornerstone Advisors, Equitable Advisors bringing on Michael Shieh, Savvy Advisors adding three wealth managers and RFG Advisory making three appointments to its executive team.

Larry’s Take

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

Last week, I mentioned what I expected would be a brief calm in wealth management M&A. And brief it was! This week, we cover no less than nine acquisitions representing over $5.5 billion in combined assets.

These deals involve sellers ranging in size from under $100 million in assets to over $2.5 billion, and buyers ranging from firms that launched last year to those that have conducted more than 35 acquisitions during the past half decade. Two different buyers even conducted double acquisitions, adding two firms each based in different states.

This diversity of M&A is a good sign for the industry, because it demonstrates that RIAs of all types are pursuing – and achieving – scale while finding deal partners that align with their strategic goals.

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. Mercer Acquires $2.5 Billion MDK Private Wealth Management In Seattle

David Welling, CEO, Mercer Global Advisors
David Welling, CEO, Mercer Global Advisors

Denver-based Mercer Global Advisors acquired Seattle-based MDK Private Wealth Management, which has over $2.5 billion in assets under supervision. MDK was founded in 2020 by Paul Meyer, Jaimi Dennehy and Chris Kalafatis.

MDK serves ultra-high net worth clients through family office services including financial planning, investment management, trust and estate planning, private banking and lending, tax planning, private aviation and boat advisory, and executive planning. Mercer has 1,060 employees, more than 80 locations nationwide and manages over $56 billion in client assets.

“MDK is a respected multi-family office led by highly qualified professionals with deep expertise serving the ultra-high net worth space,” said Dave Welling, CEO of Mercer. “One of the fastest growing areas of our business is our tailored services for ultra-high net worth clients and we are excited to add the MDK team to further bolster our expertise and capabilities in that area.”

2. MAI Acquires $562 Million LWS Wealth Advisors In New Jersey

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

Cleveland-based MAI Capital Management acquired Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based LWS Wealth Advisors, which has $562 million in assets under management (AUM). LWS provides financial planning, asset management and family office services.

Lance Lipset, Founder and Managing Principal of LWS, will become Regional President at MAI. LWS is MAI’s 36th acquisition since 2018 and its fourth of 2024. MAI, which consists of more than 400 team members across offices in 13 states, has over $20.8 billion in AUM.

“For more than a decade, LWS has provided personalized solutions to clients covering all aspects of their financial lives,” said Rick Buoncore, Managing Partner at MAI. “Their exceptional service has led to tremendous growth, and we are thrilled that they are joining the MAI family.”

3. Beacon Pointe Acquires $560 Million Keeney Financial Group In Maryland

Matt Cooper, President, Beacon Pointe Advisors
Matt Cooper, President, Beacon Pointe Advisors

Newport Beach, California-based Beacon Pointe Advisors acquired Columbia, Maryland-based Keeney Financial Group, which has approximately $560 million in AUM. The team consists of President and Founder John Keeney, five wealth advisors and financial planners, and four operational and client service professionals.

Beacon Pointe has nearly 500 employees, more than 50 offices nationwide and over $30 billion in assets under advisement. It provides wealth and retirement planning, estate and tax strategy planning, insurance reviews and risk assessments, charitable giving and education planning, values-based (SRI/ESG) investing, life transition support for divorcées and widows, financial planning for business owners, multigenerational family wealth and legacy planning, and institutional consulting.

“The Keeney Financial team gives us a strategic presence between Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas, in a very attractive and affluent locale,” said Beacon Pointe President Matt Cooper. “We’re excited to support them and have them represent Beacon Pointe in the region.”

4. Perigon Acquires 2 Firms, Blue Water And Lumin, Adding $375 Million

Arthur Ambarik, CEO, Perigon
Arthur Ambarik, CEO, Perigon

San Francisco-based Perigon Wealth Management acquired Syracuse, New York-based Blue Water Capital Management and Southfield, Michigan-based Lumin Financial, which collectively have $375 million in AUM. Perigon oversaw approximately $6.9 billion as of Jan. 31.

In February, Perigon announced the acquisition of Prudeo Partners, which oversees approximately $425 million across offices in Reading, Pennsylvania, and West Columbia, South Carolina. Perigon also recently received a minority investment from Constellation Wealth Capital to enhance its strategic expansion.

“We are thrilled to welcome these teams to Perigon,” said Perigon CEO Arthur Ambarik. “Our range of affiliation models and advisor support continue to make our majority advisor-owned firm an attractive partner for growing financial practices.”

5. Robertson Stephens Acquires The Thrush Group, Surpasses $5 Billion In AUM

Raj Bhattacharyya, CEO, Robertson Stephens
Raj Bhattacharyya, CEO, Robertson Stephens

San Francisco-based Robertson Stephens acquired Westport, Connecticut-based The Thrush Group, which oversees more than $180 million in client assets and previously was with Hightower Advisors. As a result of the deal, Robertson Stephens has surpassed $5 billion in AUM across 19 locations in 10 states.

The Thrush Group’s founders, William (Bill) Thrush and Meghan Rump, will join Robertson Stephens as Managing Directors and Principals. Thrush has over 40 years of experience, and 20 years in financial services. Rump has nearly two decades of experience in financial services and wealth management.

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Bill and Meghan to Robertson Stephens,” said Raj Bhattacharyya, CEO of Robertson Stephens. “Additionally, I want to express my deep gratitude to all of our clients and colleagues who have helped us achieve our $5 billion AUM threshold, and I look forward to working with them through many more milestones in the years to come.”

6. Modern Wealth Acquires $1.2 Billion Beltz Ianni In Rochester, New York

Jason Gordo, Co-Founder and President of Modern Wealth
Jason Gordo, Co-Founder and President of Modern Wealth

Modern Wealth Management acquired Rochester, New York-based Beltz Ianni & Associates, a corporate retirement planning and individual wealth management firm with over $1.2 billion in assets. Beltz Ianni ceased its broker-dealer affiliation with LPL Financial to join Modern Wealth’s independent RIA.

The transaction represents Modern Wealth’s sixth acquisition completed, one year after its launch. Beltz Ianni & Associates expands Modern Wealth’s presence to the eastern U.S. and adds retirement plan services for small-to-midsize companies. The acquisition also boosts Modern Wealth’s AUM to over $3 billion.

“The acquisition of Beltz Ianni not only enables our firm to serve the retirement plan management and administration needs of our business owner clients, but we’ve also added several new personal wealth management team members who will complement our growing and dynamic team,” said Jason Gordo, Co-Founder and President of Modern Wealth. “Having expanded our business to the East Coast, we expect to build and maintain our presence in the region for years to come.”

7. Householder Group Acquires 2 Firms In Texas And Colorado, Adding $150 Million

Renee Farida, COO, Householder Group Estate & Retirement Specialists
Renee Farida, COO, Householder Group Estate & Retirement Specialists

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Householder Group acquired Plano, Texas-based American Financial Services and Centennial, Colorado-based The IRA Specialists, which collectively have over $150 million in client assets. Barbara Barton is the Founder of American Financial Services. Bob Foland is President and owner of The IRA Specialists.

Householder Group has conducted 13 acquisitions since 2019. Its total acquired client assets during that time period is over $1 billion. Householder Group advisors are dually registered, with access to brokerage and advisory products. The firm provides its advisors with a marketing and branding platform, turnkey asset management solutions, back and middle-office resources, training and practice management support.

“Barbara and Bob have built strong practices, helping their impressive rosters of clients reach their financial goals,” said Renee Farida, Chief Operating Officer at Householder Group. “These are exactly the type of businesses we look to bring into the Householder family.”

Advisor Transactions

8. Compound Planning Adds 6 Advisors Who Previously Managed Over $1 Billion

Christian Haigh, Co-Founder and CEO of Compound Planning
Christian Haigh, Co-Founder and CEO of Compound Planning

The digital family office Compound Planning recruited six advisors with more than 80 years in combined financial services experience. Compound brought on Jonny Jonson, Joseph Devorak IV, Kevin Mann, Matt Buenafe, Mike O’Connor and Tyler Morris, who collectively previously managed over $1 billion in AUM.

A total of 15 advisors have joined Compound so far in 2024, and the firm added 10 advisors in 2023. In January, Compound announced the additions of Aaron Foster, Beau Simon, Brad Porter, Ian Wymore, Nathan Bengali, Rachel Buffalo, Shannon Lynch, Whitney Pappas and Willem Bloemsma – who joined from Personal Capital (now Empower) and who previously represented approximately $4 billion in AUM.

“I am thrilled to welcome six outstanding advisors to Compound Planning,” said Christian Haigh, Co-Founder and CEO of Compound Planning. “We believe to deliver exceptional service to entrepreneurs, professionals, families and retirees, we must blend the personal touch of a dedicated advisor with a beautiful digital experience. That requires not only building exceptional technology, it also requires recruiting exceptional talent.”

9. Osaic Recruits $360 Million Cornerstone Advisors In Minnesota

Kristen Kimmell, Executive Vice President Business Development, Osaic
Kristen Kimmell, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Osaic

Osaic recruited Cornerstone Advisors, which oversees nearly $360 million in assets, from Cetera. Cornerstone’s six-person team, composed of advisors and support staff, is based in the Brainerd Lakes region of Baxter, Minnesota, and has offices in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Perham, Minnesota. Cornerstone is led by its Founder, James P. Benson II.

In February, Osaic recruited Evanston, Illinois-based Egéa Wealth Management, which is led by Alex Papadopoulos and manages $117 million in client assets. In 2023, Osaic recruited new financial professionals representing approximately $22 billion in total client assets.

“I’m pleased to welcome James and his team to Osaic,” said Kristen Kimmell, Executive Vice President Business Development at Osaic. “Our mission is to use our scale and resources to provide practices like Cornerstone with the value-added systems, services and support they need to grow their businesses and reach their vision of success, however they define it.”

10. Equitable Advisors Recruits $181 Million Advisor Michael Shieh In California

Michael Shieh, Financial Advisor, Equitable Advisors
Michael Shieh, Financial Advisor, Equitable Advisors

Equitable Advisors brought on Woodland Hills, California-based Michael Shieh, a financial advisor who started his career at Equitable in 2014 and most recently worked with Cetera Investment Advisors, where he oversaw $181 million in client assets. Shieh returned to Equitable Advisors in search of support to build and grow his own team.

The firm provides advisors with an open-architecture platform, technology, marketing tools and real estate, as well as support with succession planning, team formation and compliance. Equitable Advisors had $87 billion in assets under administration as of Dec. 31, and has approximately 4,400 financial professionals nationwide. Equitable Advisors is a subsidiary of Equitable Holdings.

“Since I first joined a decade ago, Equitable Advisors has undergone many great changes as it continues to establish itself as a leader in the wealth management space. In particular, I was impressed by the evolution of its supported independence model,” Shieh said. “The resources and support available at Equitable Advisors take administrative tasks off my plate so I can focus on serving the holistic financial planning needs of my clients, while I also work to build a team.”

11. Savvy Advisors Recruits 3 Wealth Managers In California And Arkansas

Ritik Malhotra, Co-Founder and CEO, Savvy Wealth
Ritik Malhotra, Co-Founder and CEO, Savvy Wealth

Savvy Advisors, an RIA affiliated with Savvy Wealth, added three wealth managers. Del Mar, California-based Aaron Wiegman has over 20 years of financial services experience. Los Angeles-based Arynton Hardy has 10 years of experience. Central Arkansas-based Dustin Parsons has 13 years of experience.

The firm now has 15 wealth managers, all focused on serving high net worth clients. Savvy Wealth’s proprietary platform provides wealth managers with access to artificial intelligence-powered technology solutions, as well as back-office, operations, marketing and compliance support. Savvy has several hundreds of millions of dollars in AUM.

“Onboarding top financial advisors is just as important as product innovation,” said Ritik Malhotra, Co-Founder and CEO of Savvy Wealth. “To achieve our ambitious growth goals, it is imperative that we partner with accomplished wealth managers who can not only successfully implement our proprietary technology to enhance their practice, but also offer valuable feedback to help us further improve the solutions that we offer advisors and their clients.”

Promotions & People Moves

12. RFG Advisory Appoints 3 Executives To Leadership Team

Abby Salameh, Chief Growth Officer, RFG Advisory
Abby Salameh, Chief Growth Officer, RFG Advisory

Vestavia Hills, Alabama-based RFG Advisory made three appointments to its executive team who will be introduced to the entire RFG team, including advisors, at the Annual RFG Growth Conference in Naples, Florida, from March 11 to March 14.

Abby Salameh – the former Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Strategic Partnerships at CAIS and Managing Director of CAIS IQ – joins as RFG’s Chief Growth Officer. Brendan Frazier, the Founder of Wired Planning, joins as Chief Behavioral Officer. Kenneth Kim, former Head of Corporate Development and Strategy for North America at FNZ (formerly YieldX), joins as Chief Financial Officer.

“RFG is the most industry awarded firm advisors have never heard of and we are about to change that,” Salameh said. “RFG’s fully integrated platform is precisely what advisors need to enhance their client experience, drive organic growth and build enterprise value. RFG empowers advisors to define success on their own terms.”

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

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