Binah CEO On Taking The Wentworth BDs Public

Craig Gould Discusses The Wentworth And Kingswood Merger And Public Listing, As Well As The Future Of The Wealth Management Space
Craig Gould, CEO, Binah Capital Group
Craig Gould, CEO, Binah Capital Group

In a long-anticipated transaction, Wentworth Management Services and Kingswood Acquisition Corp. recently announced the successful completion of their merger and the subsequent launch of Binah Capital Group, a public company trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol BCG.

Binah Capital begins its journey as a public company with $23 billion in assets under management and approximately 1,900 financial professionals, including those from Wentworth’s four broker-dealers, which operate 535 offices across all 50 states. Wentworth’s president, Craig Gould, will serve as Binah’s new CEO.

We caught up with Gould and asked him about the deal, why he thought going public was the right move for Wentworth and what the future holds for Binah Capital in a quickly evolving and consolidating wealth management industry.

WSR: The announcement suggests that you will be more aggressive in the M&A market. As the industry continues to consolidate, what is your view of the opportunities in the market for inorganic growth? What advantages do you have in this process as a public company outside of access to public capital?

Gould: Over the past 15 years, we have seen significant consolidation across the broker-dealer sector of the wealth management industry. At the start of this trend, there were a handful of publicly traded independent broker-dealers, but now there are only two, LPL Financial and Binah Capital.

With us, there are no surprises.

Craig Gould, CEO, Binah Capital Group

Private equity dollars dominate this industry and, frankly, can impede complex deal-making. We believe operating as a public company gives us a significant advantage over private equity-backed firms, as potential partners will fully understand our capital structure and financial stability. With us, there are no surprises. Each quarter, we will provide a complete financial update to the Street. That level of transparency is uncommon in much of our industry, where AUM and other financials are reported to regulators just once a year.

Additionally, access to public markets allows us to compete for deals that other firms our size could not consider. As we move forward into this new chapter for our business, we are excited to take full advantage of our structure and flexibility to succeed in a competitive M&A landscape. This success will afford us the scale and resources to provide even greater services and support to our advisors and their clients.

WSR: What is the most significant area of opportunity for Binah Capital in the next 12 to 36 months?

Gould: The growing need for hybrid-RIA support will be critical to our long-term success. As advisors continue to leave wirehouses in droves to become RIAs, the ability to continue to provide their clients with a full range of investment solutions will drive meaningful value to their practices.

Working with a platform designed for this type of affiliation model enhances these advisors’ ability to deliver the kind of service experience their clients expect. We have seen significant success in this space over the past several years and fully expect the ongoing trend toward the hybrid model to continue to enhance the value of our platform offering.

We fully expect the ongoing trend toward the hybrid model to continue to enhance the value of our platform offering.

Craig Gould, CEO, Binah Capital Group

WSR: There are very few publicly traded wealth management companies. Why do you think that is the case?

Gould: As consolidation in our space exploded in a time of cheap capital, the primary targets were the publicly traded IBDs. Why? Because the private equity-backed firms could look at the historical data and Wall Street analysis for these firms to inform their investment decisions. Public companies are more transparent than private ones, which is valuable to acquisitive firms.

As we continue to consider a consolidating industry, we believe this structure gives us an incredible advantage over privately held companies of similar size. Our transparency gives potential partners a better understanding of who we are and what we are capable of doing together.

James Miller, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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