Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Cetera, Miracle Mile, Verdence, Arax And More

M&A By Apella, Arax, Cetera And Steward Partners. Raymond James Recruits From Wirehouses. Verdence Rebrands OCIO. Householder Group Expands Membership Program. Miracle Mile And Citizens Appoint Executives. Bank Of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo And J.P. Morgan Announce 1Q Wealth Management Results.
Paul Casey, Head of Wealth Management, Citizens Financial Group; Tom Taylor, Chief Sales and Growth Officer, Cetera; Haig Ariyan, CEO, Arax
Paul Casey, Head of Wealth Management, Citizens Financial Group; Tom Taylor, Chief Sales and Growth Officer, Cetera; Haig Ariyan, CEO, Arax
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup covers Apella acquiring ClearLogic, Arax acquiring USCWA, Cetera consolidating Cetera Advisors into Cetera Investment Advisers, Steward Partners acquiring Monaco Capital and Saling Simms, Raymond James recruiting from Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley, Verdence Capital Advisors rebranding its OCIO to Verdence/RIA+, Householder Group expanding its membership program, Miracle Mile appointing Matt Dmytryszyn as CIO, Citizens appointing Paul Casey as Head of Wealth Management and wirehouses reporting first quarter wealth management client assets.

Larry’s Take

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

Among the many interesting topics covered in the recently released Dynasty Financial Partners Q1 Inside the Deal M&A Newsletter is the question, “Why Is Everyone Rebranding?” Dynasty lists 15 rebrands that were announced from April 2023 through March 2024, and a few more have occurred since then.

The newsletter points to aligning with scale and new firm capabilities, consolidation and unity, as well as values, culture and client experience, as potential motives for rebranding, depending on the firm. As Dynasty notes, a strong and authentic brand can help a firm stand out. Indeed, great rebranding can be a competitive advantage – as long as it’s accompanied by other, substantive material improvements at a wealth management or wealthtech firm.

Advisors appreciate when firms enhance resources that make it easier for them to win and retain both ideal clients and top talent, conduct acquisitions, increase the valuations of their practices, and sell to buyers that will honor their legacies. Any firm considering a rebrand should keep in mind that, over time, advisors ultimately will align themselves with superior service.

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. $3.8 Billion Apella Acquires $464 Million ClearLogic In Virginia

Patrick Sweeny, CEO, Apella
Patrick Sweeny, CEO, Apella

West Hartford, Connecticut-based Apella Capital, which does business as Apella Wealth, acquired ClearLogic Financial, a Reston, Virginia-based RIA with $464 million in assets under management (AUM). Mark Atherton, President of ClearLogic, becomes Regional Director at Apella.

It is Apella’s 17th acquisition, and sixth since taking an investment from Wealth Partners Capital Group in 2021. Jessica Polito of Turkey Hill Management represented ClearLogic in the transaction. As of March 31, Apella managed over $3.8 billion in AUM. Apella Wealth was founded in 2014 by financial advisors Patrick Sweeny and David Connelly.

“We are thrilled to have Mark and his team join the Apella family,” said Sweeny, Apella’s CEO. “As experienced industry professionals who have been practicing evidence-based investing and planning for many years, Mark and his team are fully aligned with Apella’s mission.”

2. RedBird-Backed Arax Acquires $9 Billion USCWA In Houston

Haig Ariyan, CEO, Arax
Haig Ariyan, CEO, Arax

New York-based Arax Investment Partners, a wealth management platform backed by RedBird Capital Partners, acquired Houston-based U.S. Capital Wealth Advisors (USCWA), a hybrid wealth management firm with approximately $9 billion in assets across 62 advisors serving more than 5,500 clients.

USCWA also has a presence in the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas and Georgetown, as well as in Andover, Massachusetts, and New York. It provides financial planning, investments and insurance to high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients. In the past 18 months, Arax’s platform has grown to over $16 billion in assets across 120 advisors serving more than 12,000 clients.

“USCWA was founded on the same principles as Arax, enabling financial advisors to provide expert, holistic solutions to clients that combine the personal touch of a regional firm with capabilities available to larger, national institutions,” said Haig Ariyan, CEO of Arax. “Bringing in this multi-custodial advisory platform along with the capabilities of U.S. Capital’s broker-dealer will create further opportunities for advisors and their clients across the Arax platform.”

3. Cetera Consolidates Cetera Advisors Into Cetera Investment Advisers

Tom Taylor, Chief Sales and Growth Officer, Cetera
Tom Taylor, Chief Sales and Growth Officer, Cetera

Cetera Financial Group consolidated Cetera Advisors into its sister RIA, Cetera Investment Advisers, on time and under budget, making Cetera Investment Advisers the primary RIA for legacy Cetera communities. The consolidation will lead to significant cost savings, as well as simplified and streamlined operations, according to Cetera.

The company plans to reinvest much of the cost savings into people and programs dedicated to driving growth for Cetera advisors. Cetera supports more than 12,000 financial professionals and their teams, with over $475 billion in assets under administration and $190 billion in AUM, as of Dec. 20.

“This consolidation is a win for Cetera and our advisors, and we are pleased to have completed such a large-scale project so efficiently,” said Tom Taylor, Chief Sales and Growth Officer at Cetera. “Through this effort, we are realizing significant cost savings, which we are reinvesting in tools and resources that will help our advisors grow their businesses and benefit their clients.”

4. Steward Partners Acquires Monaco Capital And Saling Simms

Jim Gold, CEO, Steward Partners
Jim Gold, CEO, Steward Partners

New York-based Steward Partners acquired financial advisory firms Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Monaco Capital and Columbus, Ohio-based Saling Simms, under Steward Partners’ previously announced merger with Freedom Street Partners. The two firms will add five advisors, who will become equity partners and employees of Steward Partners, and a combined $488 million in client assets.

When the merger was initially announced in November, Freedom Street Partners and its network of 38 financial advisors managed $3.2 billion in client assets. That deal closed in December and Freedom Street Partners was fully transitioned into Steward Partners in March. As of January, Steward Partners had over $32 billion in client assets.

“The acquisition of both Monaco Capital and Saling Simms marks another step in our commitment to deliver excellence to our advisors, partners and clients through our legacy model,” said Jim Gold, CEO and Co-Founder of Steward Partners. “Since establishing the model last December, we have seen tremendous growth in our already successful business, and we are excited to work alongside our new partners as we continue this trajectory.”

Advisor Transactions

5. Raymond James Recruits 2 Advisors From Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley

Thera Elliott, Financial Advisor, Raymond James
Thera Elliott, Financial Advisor, Raymond James

Raymond James recruited Thera Elliott to its independent advisor channel, with Elliott Wealth Strategies in Boca Raton, Florida; and Taimur “Tam” Baig to its employee advisor channel, with Be Wealth Efficient of Raymond James in San Diego.

Tam Baig, Financial Advisor, Raymond James
Tam Baig, Financial Advisor, Raymond James

Elliott, who has nearly 20 years of industry experience, came from Wells Fargo, where she managed approximately $105 million. Baig, who has 15 years of industry experience, came from Morgan Stanley, where he managed approximately $130 million.

“Raymond James stands out in the industry for its distinguished reputation and client-first approach, which provides me with the freedom and flexibility to run my practice in a way that best suits my clients,” Elliott said. “The investment platform and technology are advanced, with robust customization and self-service tools that provide added value to my unique technology-focused clientele,” Baig said.

Strategic Partnerships

6. Verdence Rebrands OCIO Suite To Verdence/RIA+, With Expanded Offering

Leo Kelly, CEO, Verdence Capital Advisors
Leo Kelly, CEO, Verdence Capital Advisors

Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Verdence Capital Advisors – which has over $3 billion in AUM as of its March SEC ADV filing – rebranded and expanded its outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) offering to Verdence/RIA+, with an accompanying new look and website.

The offering is aimed at freeing up advisors’ time and allowing them to focus on accelerating business growth. The suite has customized, tiered services for RIAs, including continuity and succession planning, financial planning support, investment research, investment management, back office, compliance, and access to private markets and deal flow.

“Rebranding was essential to communicate the expansion in service offerings, but the transformation from Verdence/OCIO to Verdence/RIA+ is so much more than a name change,” said Leo Kelly, CEO of Verdence Capital Advisors. “It embodies our commitment to evolving alongside our clients and the transition of this part of our business from an OCIO solutions provider to a full-service RIA extension.”

7. Householder Group Expands Membership Program

Renee Farida, COO, Householder Group
Renee Farida, COO, Householder Group

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Householder Group Estate and Retirement Specialists expanded its Successor Membership Program and opened several new member opportunities, with current opportunities available in Arizona, Texas and California. Over the past five years, the Program has exceeded $1 billion in AUM across 13 deals.

Householder Group’s Membership Program was launched in 2019 to allow advisors nearing retirement to collaborate with a successor advisor. Retiring advisors get liquidity events and control of their exit. Successor advisors get an opportunity to inherit an established business, while receiving membership interest in the practice they join based on the assets they bring to the firm.

“Our program matches founding advisors looking for an exit strategy with compatible advisors who are in growth mode, have long runways ahead of them and are strategically and culturally aligned with the values of Householder Group,” said Renee Farida, the firm’s COO.

Promotions & People Moves

8. Miracle Mile Appoints Matt Dmytryszyn As CIO

Matt Dmytryszyn, Chief Investment Officer, Miracle Mile Advisors
Matt Dmytryszyn, Chief Investment Officer, Miracle Mile Advisors

Los Angeles-based Miracle Mile Advisors appointed Matt Dmytryszyn as Chief Investment Officer. Dmytryszyn will lead the Investments Team, chair the investment committee, direct the research agenda, and oversee portfolio management, trading and strategy implementation with the team. He will report to Miracle Mile CEO Bruce Milam.

Dmytryszyn has over 25 years of financial services experience. Most recently, he served as CIO for Telemus Capital. Previously, he was a Principal Senior Research Analyst at LaSalle Street Capital Management. Earlier, he held research positions at Russell Investments and Piper Jaffray. As of February, Miracle Mile oversaw approximately $5.7 billion in client assets across 27 advisors and more than 70 total employees.

“Providing authoritative and proprietary research is increasingly becoming a critical differentiator for elite RIAs, with advisors today looking for every edge possible to navigate the current dynamic market environment and develop customized investment strategies for their high net worth clients,” Dmytryszyn said.

9. Citizens Appoints Paul Casey As Head Of Wealth Management

Paul Casey, Head of Wealth Management, Citizens Financial Group
Paul Casey, Head of Wealth Management, Citizens Financial Group

Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group appointed Paul Casey as Head of Wealth Management, effective July 9. Based in New York, he will lead the bank’s Citizens Wealth Management and Citizens Private Wealth Management groups. The hire follows the 2023 launch of Citizens Private Bank and the hiring of approximately 200 bankers.

Casey has over two decades of experience. He comes from Morgan Stanley, where he most recently served as Managing Director for the flagship New York City Private Wealth Management office, overseeing more than $90 billion in client assets. Citizens had $222 billion in assets as of Dec. 31.

“Paul is an experienced and well-rounded Wealth Management executive with a proven track record of success and has a long runway here at Citizens,” said Brendan Coughlin, Vice Chair and Head of Consumer Banking at Citizens. “His experience in building a world class Private Wealth business at one of the top firms in the U.S. will be invaluable as we aspire to build a preeminent Private Wealth offering.”

Wirehouse / Big Bank Activity

10. Bank Of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Report Q1 Results

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan reported first quarter results, including for their wealth and investment management divisions.

Bank of America reported record client assets for Merrill Wealth Management and Bank of America Private Bank, at balances of $3.3 trillion and $634 billion, respectively. Morgan Stanley reported wealth management client assets of $2.1 trillion, up from $1.8 trillion the same quarter last year, and investment management AUM of $1.5 trillion, up from $1.4 trillion.

Wells Fargo reported wealth and investment management client assets of $2.2 trillion, up from $1.9 trillion the same quarter last year. J.P. Morgan reported asset and wealth management AUM of $3.6 trillion, up 19% from the same quarter last year, and client assets of $5.2 trillion, up 20%.

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

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