Deals & Recruiting Roundup: OneDigital, Dynasty, Carson, Waverly And More

M&A By Cerity, Focus And Waverly. Recruitments By Diversity, Dynasty And UBS. Stratos Rebrands 2 Firms. Intention.ly Adds Sales Development Representative Service. Ron Carson Names Burt White As New Carson Group CEO. Choreo Appoints Matthew Gotlin As CIO. And Mike Sullivan Of OneDigital Is Our Newest Recruiter Of The Month.
Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer, OneDigital
Our Recruiter of the Month: Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer, OneDigital
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 Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at OneDigital, about its 2024 growth strategy.

We also cover Cerity Partners merging with Agility; Focus Financial Partners agreeing to merge InterOcean Capital Group into The Colony Group; Waverly Advisors acquiring McShane Partners; Stratos Private Wealth expanding into southern New Jersey and Westchester County, New York; Fairvoy Private Wealth launching through Dynasty Financial Partners; Intention.ly launching a Sales Development Representative service, Diversify Advisor Network adding Key Advisors to its partner platform; Burt White taking over as CEO of Carson Group from Ron Carson; Choreo appointing Matthew Gotlin as CIO; and UBS recruiting from J.P. Morgan.

Larry’s Take

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

This edition has several entries involving Chief Investment Officers and Outsourced Chief Investment Officers (OCIOs), which points to a trend that could be relevant for future M&A dealmakers.

As wealth management firms continually make greater use of portfolio management offerings from third-party vendors, smaller RIAs are increasingly tapping OCIOs for family office-style services or TAMPs for pure asset management. This frees advisors to focus on client-facing needs. One consequence is that CIOs are becoming core to the entire space, and their decision-making capacity for wealth management firms is growing.

Many RIA sellers already favor buyers with robust OCIO offerings. Soon, they may begin to favor buyers that also have a dedicated CIO on the leadership team. Their potential value-add is applying strategic expertise to help the seller leverage those enhanced portfolio management capabilities, as a way of accelerating its long-term growth trajectory.

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. Cerity Partners Merging With $15 Billion Agility

Kurt Miscinski, CEO, Cerity Partners
Kurt Miscinski, CEO, Cerity Partners

New York-based RIA Cerity Partners announced that it will manage about $100 billion in client assets after acquiring and merging with Denver-based Agility. Agility is the investment outsourcing business of investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners. After the transaction closes, Agility will form Cerity Partners OCIO.

Adding Agility will expand Cerity’s capabilities via outsourced OCIO services to family offices, individual investors, nonprofit organizations and ultra-high net worth (UHNW) investors. Agility, founded in 2007, had $15 billion in assets under management (AUM) as of Dec. 31, according to its website. Cerity was founded in 2009.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Agility team, which brings nearly two decades of experience and unparalleled expertise in serving nonprofit organizations, businesses and ultra-high net worth clientele,” said Kurt Miscinski, CEO of Cerity Partners. “This partnership will reinforce our ability to serve this very important segment of the market.”

2. Focus Agrees To Merge $5.8 Billion InterOcean Into $21.5 Billion Colony

Travis Danysh, Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Focus Financial Partners
Travis Danysh, Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Focus Financial Partners

Focus Financial Partners agreed to merge Nashville, Tennessee-based InterOcean Capital Group into The Colony Group, which is based in Boston. InterOcean had approximately $5.8 billion in AUM and Colony had approximately $21.5 billion, as of their April SEC ADV filings. InterOcean joined Focus as a partner firm in 2020.

Colony recently appointed Sheila Ryan as President of Colony Wealth Management. Ryan also is a Principal of The Colony Group. Focus also recently agreed for Wellesley, Massachusetts-based GW & Wade, which has $10.4 billion in AUM, to formally join The Colony Group. After the merger, GW & Wade will operate as GW & Wade at The Colony Group.

“This deal marks an important next step in the evolution of each business,” said Travis Danysh, Head of Mergers and Acquisitions at Focus. “We’re excited to see the ways in which Colony and InterOcean continue developing and implementing a range of sophisticated strategies designed to meet every client’s unique needs.”

3. Waverly Acquires $700 Million McShane Partners In North Carolina

Daniele Donahoe, CEO, McShane Partners
Daniele Donahoe, CEO, McShane Partners

Birmingham, Alabama-based Waverly Advisors acquired the investment advisory business of Charlotte, North Carolina-based McShane Partners, a fee-only RIA that was founded in 1985 and has approximately $700 million in AUM. It is led by CEO Daniele Donahoe. The deal is Waverly’s third acquisition of 2024.

It follows the acquisitions of StrategIQ Financial Group and EFP Advisors, and is Waverly’s 13th transaction since accepting an equity investment in December 2021 from Wealth Partners Capital Group and HGGC’s Aspire Holdings platform. Waverly, which manages approximately $11.3 billion in assets, offers investment, tax, estate and financial planning services.

“McShane’s mission has always been to champion transparent and objective advice of the highest caliber while delivering an unprecedented level of service,” Donahoe said. “It is clear that Waverly shares these values, and we are confident this partnership will offer increased resources and support for our clients.”

Advisor Transactions

4. Stratos Private Wealth Expands To New Jersey And New York

Jeff Brown, President & Founder, Stratos Private Wealth
Jeff Brown, President & Founder, Stratos Private Wealth

Stratos Private Wealth expanded its presence into southern New Jersey and Westchester County, New York, by rebranding Heald Financial Advisors (Stratos Private Wealth – South Jersey) and Claricity Wealth & Planning (Stratos Private Wealth – Westchester). The firm, which is a part of the Beachwood, Ohio-based Stratos Wealth Holdings, now manages about $1.7 billion.

Stratos Private Wealth launched in May 2023 after Stratos Wealth Holdings took a majority stake in BWM Financial, a San Diego-based firm founded by Jeff Brown. The leadership of the rebranded firms will remain intact. Dan Loughlin will lead the South Jersey office and Adam Rude will head up the Westchester presence.

“The increased demand for high net worth, ultra-high net worth and family office support underscores the importance of developing a unified approach to this market segment, and I’m thrilled to welcome the South Jersey and Westchester teams to Stratos Private Wealth,” said Jeff Brown, the President and Founder of Stratos Private Wealth. “Together, we will enhance the services we provide to this growing client base with quality solutions supported by the scale and expertise of the Stratos network.”

5. Ex-Merrill Lynch Advisors Launch Fairvoy Private Wealth On Dynasty’s Platform

Shirl Penney, CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners
Shirl Penney, CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners

Birmingham, Alabama-based Fairvoy Private Wealth launched on the Dynasty Financial Partners platform, with advisors who previously managed $550 million at Merrill Lynch. Dynasty’s network supports 55 independent firms and more than 370 advisors, administering over $87 billion on its core technology platform.

Fairvoy selected Fidelity as its custodian, Black Diamond for performance reporting and eMoney Advisor for financial planning. The team is led by Managing Partner Stephen Davis, COO Neal Carroll and CFO Ashley Davis. It also includes H. Alan Word, Director and Senior Private Wealth Advisor; Claudia Johnston, Vice President and Private Wealth Advisor; as well as Alma Maric, Vice President and Associate Wealth Advisor.

“We are pleased to welcome the Fairvoy team to our Dynasty family and thrilled to include a new firm in the growing Birmingham market,” said Shirl Penney, CEO and Founder of Dynasty Financial Partners. “Fairvoy impressed us with their deep commitment to their clients, and their embrace of independence as the best means of putting them first.”

6. Diversify Advisor Network Adds $645 Million Key Advisors To Partner Platform

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

Key Advisors Wealth Management, a Delaware-based firm with $645 million in AUM, is joining Diversify Wealth Management. Co-founded by Eddie Ghabour in 2000, Key Advisors joined Diversify’s platform in 2022 under Diversify Advisory Services. Ghabour will become an equity holder in Diversify and have a leadership role in the organization.

Launched in January 2024, Diversify Wealth Management is a W-2 employee-affiliation-model RIA that joined Diversify Advisory Services, an independent RIA platform, and DFPG Investments, an independent broker-dealer, as part of the Diversify Advisor Network. The combined firms have approximately $7 billion in total assets.

“Part of the design for our Partner Platform was to allow our independent advisors an affiliation model in which they could monetize their practice, plan for clear succession and take an equity position alongside our founders,” said Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Diversify. “Eddie and his team at Key represent the exact type of practice we envisioned benefiting from this flexibility. Eddie knows our platform well and is a strong advocate for what we created.”

Strategic Partnerships

7. Intention.ly Launches Sales Development Representative Service

Kyle Hiatt, Partner, Head of Sales Consulting, Intention.ly
Kyle Hiatt, Partner, Head of Sales Consulting, Intention.ly

Intention.ly, a consultancy assisting finserv and fintech companies with their approach to sales and marketing, launched an outsourced Sales Development Representative (SDR) service. It aims to help businesses accelerate their sales pipeline and drive revenue growth by providing firms with a cost-effective alternative to hiring and managing internal sales representatives.

The SDR offering encompasses generating leads for the sales engine, tailoring sales playbooks for selling strategies, employing prospecting and qualification processes to identify opportunities, setting appointments with prospects to drive business growth, and managing the sales pipeline toward revenue targets.

“We view the SDR offering as a natural extension of our efforts to innovate and design a bulletproof sales operations framework for clients and the broader industry,” said Kyle Hiatt, Partner and Head of Sales Consulting at Intention.ly. “In our quest to minimize the communication gap between sales and marketing departments, the introduction of sales development representatives with comprehensive marketing acumen and access to key industry decision makers emerges as the ideal solution.”

Promotions & People Moves

8. Ron Carson To Step Down As CEO, Burt White To Take Lead At Carson Group

Ron Carson, Founder, Carson Group
Ron Carson, Founder, Carson Group

Omaha, Nebraska-based Carson Group announced that Founder and CEO Ron Carson will become Chairman and that Chief Strategy Officer Burt White will become the new CEO. Carson will keep majority ownership of the firm and shift focus to longer-term goals. White will lead execution of the firm’s advisor-focused growth strategy.

Carson began his career by selling insurance out of his college dorm room in 1983. His RIA now has $35.5 billion in AUM and serves approximately 50,000 families through an advisory network of 150 partners. Before joining the firm in 2022, White was Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at LPL Financial for 14 years.

Burt White, incoming CEO, Carson Group
Burt White, incoming CEO, Carson Group

“As we have advanced our mission, I realize that to continue to be a growth leader in the RIA space, we must adopt a bifocal ability to execute on what’s right in front of us while also innovating and anticipating the needs of our advisors – and clients – years and even decades from now,” Carson said. “It’s an honor to build on the foundation Ron has laid and to partner across Carson Group’s dynamic and talented leadership team to continue to expand and deepen our value proposition for advisors and investors,” White said.

9. Choreo Appoints Matthew Gotlin As Chief Investment Officer

Matthew Gotlin, Chief Investment Officer, Choreo
Matthew Gotlin, Chief Investment Officer, Choreo

Choreo, an RIA with a focus on tax and financial planning, appointed Matthew Gotlin as its Chief Investment Officer. Based in Columbia, Maryland, Gotlin will lead a team that creates client solutions, researches public and private markets and identifies economic trends, the company recently announced.

Gotlin joined Choreo in November 2023 after it acquired BDO USA’s affiliated wealth management business, where he served as a Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer. Prior to that, he was Director of Research at Biegel & Waller and co-founded private equity firm March Capital. Choreo has 42 locations nationwide, serves over 6,000 families and has approximately $24.6 billion of assets under management or advisement.

“His experience as both a wealth manager and investment strategist, combined with his dedication to providing the highest level of analytical research, will prove invaluable to our advisor and client community, helping them to better understand emerging investment trends in both the public and private markets,” said Larry Miles, CEO of Choreo.

Wirehouse Activity

10. UBS Recruits 4 Financial Professionals From J.P. Morgan

Tom Conigatti, Market Director, UBS Private Wealth Management
Tom Conigatti, Market Director, UBS Private Wealth Management

UBS Private Wealth recruited four financial professionals from J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Private Wealth Advisors William Wright and Matthew Hoffman, along with Senior Wealth Strategy Associate Audrey Kaus, join the UBS Manhattan Market in New York. Thomas Mains joins the UBS Southeast Market in Atlanta.

Wright has over 18 years of industry experience, Hoffman has nine years of experience, Kaus has two years of experience and Mains has over a decade of experience. Mains joins MLM Partners, which went to UBS in 2020 from J.P. Morgan Private Bank and oversees more than $6 billion in client assets.

“We’re thrilled that Will, Matt and Audrey will be joining our team, and we look forward to supporting them as they build and grow their careers here at UBS,” said Tom Conigatti, Market Director at UBS Private Wealth Management. “[Thomas Mains’] talent and experience are a great addition to our group in Atlanta, and we look forward to supporting him as he further grows his career at UBS,” said Lane Strumlauf, UBS Southeast Market Executive.

Recruiter Of The Month

Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder And Chief Growth Officer, OneDigital

Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer, OneDigital
Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer, OneDigital

Overland Park, Kansas-based OneDigital Investment Advisors recently acquired Houston-based Legacy Asset Management, an RIA with approximately $550 million in client assets. Earlier this year, OneDigital Investment Advisors acquired San Luis Obispo, California-based WealthSource Partners, whose 44-person team has over $2 billion in assets, approximately 2,000 client families and offices in nine states.

OneDigital Investment Advisors has over $100 billion in client assets. The RIA is a subsidiary of OneDigital, an insurance brokerage, financial services and HR consulting firm. The parent company serves more than 75,000 employers and through them millions of individuals. And now for our Q&A with Mike Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at OneDigital.

WSR: What is OneDigital’s recruitment and acquisition strategy for 2024?

Sullivan: OneDigital is dedicated to recruiting culturally-aligned firms and leadership teams across most U.S. cities. We are confident that the company we are building is unlike any other firm that exists today. By partnering with teams that share our growth mindset, we believe our diversified platform can reach and serve millions of Americans in their pursuit of health, success and financial security.

Therefore, our focus is on recruiting talent that possesses the right attitude, energy and intelligence. This approach allows us to build our company with experienced leaders while significantly enhancing growth opportunities for the next generation.

WSR: What types of wealth management firms and advisors make for ideal candidates?

Sullivan: OneDigital is an integrator. We actively seek talented advisors who are inclined toward joining a team and collaborative work rather than operating 100% independently. We invite these teams to join us, fostering a collegial environment that prioritizes strategic planning. This approach enables us to deliver wealth management services to our extensive client base, thereby enhancing OneDigital’s capacity and reach.

WSR: What sets OneDigital apart from other wealth management firms to ideal potential advisors and firms?

Sullivan: For nearly a quarter of a century, the founding leaders of OneDigital have been building a unique business model. This model blends the energy of entrepreneurship with the expertise of an experienced operational team, all aimed at expanding alongside our “shareholder” partners. OneDigital’s strategic focus is long-term and entirely client-centric. By aligning wealth management adjacent to a massive employer-based insurance practice, our ability to drive organic growth through an extensive network of existing relationships is unparalleled.****

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

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