Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Bluespring, Merit, Carson, Diversify And More

M&A By Bluespring, Merit And Carson. Recruitments By Osaic, LPL, Sanctuary And Ashton Thomas. Diversify Expands Its Asset Management Program. Realta Appoints CFO. And Oppenheimer Continues Growing Its Public Finance Team.
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup covers Bluespring Wealth Partners merging two partner firms, Merit Financial Advisors acquiring Viren and Associates, Carson Wealth acquiring the office of three advisors, Osaic recruiting Cohen Financial Services, M&K Legacy Wealth going independent through Sanctuary, LPL Financial announcing the recruitment of eight different practices in the same week, Ashton Thomas adding McDonagh Bauers Private Wealth, Diversify Advisor Network expanding its asset management program, Realta Wealth appointing Tim Bowman as CFO and Oppenheimer further growing its public finance team.

Larry’s Take

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

When a larger firm facilitates the merger of two smaller firms, this can achieve multiple goals. The smaller firms can achieve scale, complementary capabilities and better brand awareness. The larger firm can demonstrate its value-add to those smaller firms, as well as attract other firms not yet in its ecosystem that are open to mergers. The process has occurred in a few different forms recently.

Today’s roundup covers Bluespring’s merger of Retirement Wealth Specialists and Security Financial Management. In February, we covered Merchant Investment Management-backed Trivium Point Advisory merging with Paradigm Financial Partners and Lyons & Lyons, CPAs. The same month, we covered Aztec Software acquiring Financial Fitness Group and merging it with Aztec’s iGrad financial literacy platform.

The trend also points to the benefits of allowing affiliates, minority-stake investment partners and wholly-owned subsidiaries to maintain a certain amount of autonomy. Doing so can help retain key personnel at the smaller firms, and generate new ideas on how to grow the business.

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. Kestra’s Bluespring Merges 2 Florida-Based Partner Firms With $1.4 Billion

Stuart Silverman, Chairman, Bluespring
Stuart Silverman, Chairman, Bluespring

Bluespring Wealth Partners, a subsidiary of Kestra Financial, merged two of its partner firms, Retirement Wealth Specialists and Security Financial Management, whose advisors oversee approximately $1.4 billion in assets. The firm will retain the Security Financial Management brand and has five locations across Florida.

RWS has a five-person team led by President and Senior Advisor Mitch Walk. SFM has a 23-person team led by Managing Partners David Allen, Frank Lovaglio and Michael Allen. In January, Bluespring acquired Herndon, Virginia-based Hughes Financial Services, a family-run firm that manages over $500 million.

“We’re excited about the merger of RWS into SFM, which will strengthen the capabilities of SFM while securing the legacy of RWS,” said Bluespring Chairman Stuart Silverman. “Two of our Partners merging to become a leading wealth management firm in the southeast is a testament to the high level of quality and like-mindedness we’ve built in the Bluespring community, further echoing the advantage of integration into the BWP ecosystem.”

2. Merit Acquires $542 Million Viren And Associates In Spokane, Washington

Paul Viren, President, Viren and Associates
Paul Viren, President, Viren and Associates

Atlanta-based Merit Financial Advisors acquired Spokane, Washington-based Viren and Associates, which has over $542 million in assets. The firm, founded by Paul and Beth Viren, provides financial planning, retirement plans, life and disability insurance, and group employee benefits. Paul Viren has 30 years of experience. Viren also has two additional financial planners and client support professionals.

The deal is Merit’s 25th acquisition since taking a minority investment in December 2020 from Wealth Partners Capital Group and a strategic investor group led by HGGC’s Aspire Holdings platform. Merit has more than 40 offices nationwide and managed $10 billion in assets as of Dec. 31. In February, Merit launched Merit Amplify, an independent affiliation model for advisors outside of M&A deals.

“Merit’s commitment to excellence and providing world-class service to its clients is highly appealing and fully aligns with the brand that Viren has successfully built over the past few decades,” Paul Viren said. “One of Viren’s core values is to always put its clients’ interests first, and we are thrilled to have found a partner in Merit that has the same level of integrity, approach to clients and expertise.”

3. Carson Wealth Acquires Office Of $163 Million Trio In Nebraska

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

Omaha, Nebraska-based Carson Wealth, a subsidiary of Carson Group, acquired its 13th wholly-owned office, a three-person team in nearby Elkhorn with over $163 million in assets, who came from Elk River Wealth Management. David Carroll and Jon Springer, Managing Directors and Wealth Advisors, join along with Client Services Manager Jessica Fricke.

Carroll and Springer each have nearly 30 years of financial services experience. Carson Group manages $34 billion in assets and serves more than 49,000 families across its advisory network of over 150 partner offices, including more than 50 Carson Wealth locations. In February, Carson Wealth announced the acquisition of Hanover, New Hampshire-based Fisher Financial Advisors, which oversees $180 million.

“We are thrilled to welcome David, Jon and Jessica to the Carson family as part of our expanding Omaha footprint,” said Gregg Johnson, National Sales Director at Carson Group. “Their dedication to client-centric values and their alignment with our mission make them invaluable additions to our team.”

Advisor Transactions

4. Osaic Recruits Cohen Financial Services, New Century OSJ Surpasses $1 Billion

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

Osaic recruited Overland Park, Kansas-based Cohen Financial Services through its OSJ enterprise group, New Century Financial Group. Cohen, which was founded in 1960 and joins from Cetera Advisors, has $165 million in client assets and boosts New Century’s total client assets to over $1 billion.

The Cohen team includes partners and financial advisors Jason Stewart, Carey Berger and Mark Glass; Carrie Jones, Director of Operations; and Sam Glass, a Planning Analyst. Cohen provides multigenerational financial planning, investment and risk management, retirement and estate planning, employee benefits, business succession strategies and insurance services. New Century supports 30 advisors and is led by Richard Oring, its President.

“Cohen Financial Services is the latest in a long list of high-quality wealth management practices choosing to build their futures with Osaic,” said Kristen Kimmell, Executive Vice President Business Development at Osaic. “They’ve found a terrific partner with Rich and New Century, and we look forward to working with them to continue their growth.”

5. $1 Billion Stifel Breakaway Team Launches With Sanctuary

Adam Malamed, CEO, Sanctuary Wealth
Adam Malamed, CEO, Sanctuary Wealth

Indianapolis-based M&K Legacy Wealth, formerly Tanner Wealth Management Group, became independent and affiliated with Sanctuary Wealth through its Partnered Independence platform. The group, led by Founders and Managing Partners J. Miller and Chad Keller, was formerly employed by Stifel.

In addition to Miller and Keller, the firm includes L. Gene Tanner who has six decades of experience, Wealth Advisor Christy Swindel and Senior Wealth Advisor Suzanne Marshall, as well as three associates and operations support staff. The firm will co-locate with Sanctuary in its Indianapolis office. M&K is Sanctuary’s third billion-dollar Indianapolis-based, multigenerational affiliate.

“J., Chad and their entire team are the perfect fit for our business model and culture, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Sanctuary Wealth family,” said Adam Malamed, Sanctuary’s CEO, recently named WSR’s CEO of the Year. “I look forward to working closely with the team to further expand the value they can create for their clients and the equity they will build in their own business.”

6. LPL Announces Recruitment Of 8 Advisors With Combined $1 Billion, In Same Week

Scott Posner, Executive Vice President, Business Development, LPL Financial
Scott Posner, Executive Vice President, Business Development, LPL Financial

LPL Financial announced the recruitment of eight advisors in the same week, who collectively manage over $1 billion in client assets. Seven of the advisors are headquartered in the Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove, have operated independently in the same building for over a decade, and represent approximately $700 million in assets.

Michael Matheson, Susan Anderson and Marie Henrichs came over as a group. Independently, Amy Holewa, Jeff Schuler, Paul Lyon and Dan Pias each also joined. The advisors previously were affiliated with Osaic. Birmingham, Alabama-based Brian Pflaum also joined from Lincoln Financial Advisors, where he managed $345 million, and will now operate as TPG Private Wealth.

“At LPL, we are committed to helping advisors visualize and develop their perfect practice by offering streamlined and integrated business solutions and personalized support to help them create an elevated experience for their clients,” said Scott Posner, LPL Executive Vice President, Business Development. “We look forward to supporting each of these advisors for years to come.”

7. Ashton Thomas Adds $500 Million McDonagh Bauers, Its First New York Team

Aaron Brodt, Founder and CEO, Ashton Thomas
Aaron Brodt, Founder and CEO, Ashton Thomas

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Ashton Thomas Private Wealth, a subsidiary of Arax Investment Partners, brought on The McDonagh Bauers Private Wealth Team, a New York-based group with $500 million in AUM that previously was with Alex. Brown, a division of Raymond James. Managing Director and Partner Ted McDonagh, Director and Partner Daniel Bauers, and Senior Registered Associate Justine Kinaj, will affiliate with the hybrid broker-dealer Ashton Thomas Securities.

BNY Mellon’s Pershing also announced that it will support Ashton Thomas Securities with clearing and custody solutions. Advisors with Ashton Thomas Securities will be able to use BNY Mellon Precision Direct Indexing, a customizable investment strategy that seeks to match the performance and overall characteristics of various major benchmarks.

“Ted and Dan make a great addition to our growing team of established wealth advisors,” said Ashton Thomas founder and CEO Aaron Brodt. “We now have an anchor in the financial capital of the U.S., and we could not be more delighted to have such fine professionals represent us as our first team in New York City.”

Strategic Partnerships

8. Diversify Advisor Network Expands Internal Asset Management Program

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

Sandy, Utah-based Diversify Advisor Network, an advisor-focused independent wealth management firm with $7 billion of AUM, is building out an internal asset management platform and investment team led by David Wrigley, its Chief Investment Officer. The team increased headcount by 125% over the last year and advisor adoption of the platform has increased by 53% over the trailing six months.

The platform includes traditional investments, alternatives, internal Separately Managed Accounts, external SMAs and Unified Managed Accounts. Diversify also operates Diversify Advisory Services, an RIA platform that seeks to provide institutional quality services and resources to advisors, and Diversify Wealth Management, an affiliation model for independent advisors to monetize their practice and obtain a direct equity partnership in Diversify.

“After experiencing firsthand the limitations of other investment platforms, we concluded that we could provide a superior, more robust and more cost-effective investment platform to advisors and their clients by bringing the asset management function in-house,” said Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Diversify Advisor Network. “Our expanded platform provides our advisors with a full line-up of best-in-class strategies.”

Promotions & People Moves

9. Realta Wealth Appoints Tim Bowman As Chief Financial Officer

Tim Bowman, CFO, Realta Wealth
Tim Bowman, CFO, Realta Wealth

Realta Wealth, the independent wealth management firm that until recently was known as CoastalOne, announced the appointment of Tim Bowman as Chief Financial Officer. Bowman will report to Realta Wealth CEO Kevin Keefe and was brought on to help the firm’s executive team deliver on its growth vision and strategy.

With over three decades of experience, Bowman will oversee all of Realta’s financial operations. Before Realta, Bowman was CFO of Prime Trust. His previous roles include SVP of Finance at Cetera Financial Group, Head of Financial Planning and Analysis at KCG Holdings and CFO at Arxis Capital Group.

“I’m excited to bring my experience to Realta as the firm embarks on its next phase with new leadership, brand and value proposition,” Bowman said. “Realta has the energy and drive of a startup, with the foundational stability and executive suite of a well-established firm.”

10. Oppenheimer Public Finance Hires Frank Sanchez Reed To Lead Southwest Region

Frank Sanchez Reed, Head of the Southwest Region, Public Finance, Oppenheimer
Frank Sanchez Reed, Head of the Southwest Region, Public Finance, Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer & Co. hired Texas-based Frank Sanchez Reed as Managing Director, Head of the Southwest Region for Public Finance, focusing on large issuer coverage and strategy, including in California. His appointment follows the recent hires of Elizabeth Coolidge as Head of Public Finance and several other senior public finance bankers, all of whom came from UBS.

Oppenheimer’s Public Finance team advises and raises capital for state and local governments, public agencies, private developers, nonprofit organizations and other borrowers – typically in the form of municipal bonds. Financial advisors in Oppenheimer’s Private Client Division often include municipal bonds as part of their clients’ overall portfolio strategies.

“I look forward to growing Oppenheimer’s Public Finance offering in the Southwest Region and to working again with Beth and our other highly experienced colleagues,” Reed said. “Oppenheimer has an unrivaled reputation for excellence of execution and dedication to client service, which is fueling its rapid and ongoing expansion in public finance.”

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

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