Deals & Recruiting Roundup: Sanctuary, SEIA, Avantax, Focus And More

M&A By Sanctuary Wealth, SEIA, Avantax And BIP Wealth. Recruitments By LPL Financial, Janney Montgomery Scott And EP Wealth Advisors. Strategic Hires By Focus Financial Partners And Eton Advisors. Family Office Report By J.P. Morgan.
Adam Malamed, CEO, Sanctuary Wealth; Brian Hughes, President, Eton Advisors; Michael Nathanson, CEO, Focus Financial Partners
Adam Malamed, CEO, Sanctuary Wealth; Brian Hughes, President, Eton Advisors; Michael Nathanson, CEO, Focus Financial Partners
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

This edition of the Deals & Recruiting Roundup covers Sanctuary Wealth acquiring tru Independence, SEIA agreeing to acquire Cedar Brook, Avantax acquiring the wealth management business of Integrated Tax & Wealth Strategies, BIP Wealth agreeing to acquire The Money Advisor Group, LPL Financial and Janney Montgomery Scott each recruiting three teams that collectively oversee $1.3 billion, EP Wealth onboarding two advisors focused on professional athletes, Eton Advisors appointing Brian Hughes as President, Focus Financial Partners appointing Michael Nathanson as CEO and J.P. Morgan releasing a Global Family Office Report.

Larry’s Take

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

The over $15 billion in client assets across four M&A transactions that we cover this week suggests that deal flow remains healthy in the second quarter of 2024. The Sanctuary deal is especially interesting because it shows that even fast growing and tech-savvy platforms such as tru Independence are open to the right partner under the proper circumstances.

Meanwhile, amid all this M&A activity, there are firms such as Regent Peak Wealth Advisors, which has doubled its assets to over $600 million since breaking away from Merrill Lynch and becoming an independent RIA five years ago. What’s more, it’s done so largely organically and without M&A by continually enhancing its client service model though industry partnerships.

Although some successful RIAs may never sell to larger players, would-be buyers should keep them on their radar. Since the best M&A deals occur between buyers and sellers that are more than the sum of their parts, it’s definitely worth identifying innovators early. It might even be a good idea to begin outreach early, too. You never know who’s open to a deal, until you ask.

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. Sanctuary Wealth To Acquire $12.5 Billion tru Independence

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

Sanctuary Wealth will acquire Portland, Oregon-based tru Independence (tru), the firms said. Indianapolis-based Sanctuary supports former wirehouse advisors who are not interested in managing the regulatory responsibilities of an RIA. tru, with 30 RIA firms managing $12.5 billion in client assets, supports advisors who wish to own their RIAs.

Together, the combined enterprise will support approximately 120 independent wealth management firms that manage over $42 billion in client assets across 30 states. Sanctuary and tru will each retain its own brand and leadership team while working together and leveraging each other’s capabilities to serve their respective advisor bases. ECHELON Partners served as the exclusive financial advisor to tru Independence on the transaction.

“Sanctuary and tru have built their businesses on partnered independence, where being independent does not mean going it alone,” said Adam Malamed, CEO of Sanctuary Wealth. “tru is a pioneer in independent wealth management and an innovator in supporting elite advisors who wish to own their own RIAs. With a well-earned reputation for authenticity and transparency, tru’s core values align with Sanctuary’s.”

2. SEIA To Buy $2 Billion Cedar Brook In Cleveland

Cameron Stagg, Director of M&A, SEIA
Cameron Stagg, Director of M&A, SEIA

Los Angeles-based Signature Estate & Investment Advisors (SEIA) agreed to acquire acquire Cedar Brook, a $2 billion RIA based in Cleveland. The transaction is expected to close in June. When completed, the acquisition will boost SEIA’s assets under management (AUM) to more than $22 billion and be SEIA’s first major expansion into the Midwest.

It will also be SEIA’s largest transaction since partnering with New York-based private equity firm Reverence Capital Partners in 2022. SEIA, which WSR named a Fee-Based RIA of the Year in January’s Wealth Exemplar Awards, has 30 advisors, according to its website. In September, it launched an in-house broker-dealer, Signature Estate Securities.

“SEIA is positioning itself for strategic national growth opportunities,” said Cameron Stagg, Director of M&A. “This is just the beginning of SEIA’s M&A endeavors. We expect significant additional acquisitions across the nation.”

3. Avantax Acquires $760 Million Integrated Tax & Wealth Strategies

Michael Molnar, Head of Corporate Development, Cetera
Michael Molnar, Head of Corporate Development, Avantax

Avantax, a subsidiary of Cetera Holdings, acquired the wealth management business of Integrated Tax & Wealth Strategies, which already was affiliated with Avantax and had $760 million in client assets as of Dec. 31. Collectively, Avantax and its subsidiaries had $92.8 billion in assets as of that date.

Brian Stephens, Founder of Integrated Tax & Wealth Strategies and a member of Baytown, Texas-based Davis & Associates CPA Firm, will continue with the tax practice. The firm’s other financial advisors and wealth management team – including Matt Murch, Joseph Webster, Sabrina Pledger, Amy Villarreal, Kyle Pledger and Cheryl Wright – became W-2 investment adviser representatives of Avantax Planning Partners.

“For each deal, the Avantax discovery process starts with what’s most important to that business owner,” said Michael Molnar, SVP of Corporate Development, M&A and Succession Planning at Avantax. “Brian outlined how he wanted his clients to be served, the growth opportunities he hoped to create for his team and partners, and what he wanted his next several years to look like. We successfully structured the deal to meet Brian’s goals while setting the stage for the next phase of growth.”

4. BIP Wealth To Acquire $300 Million The Money Advisor Group

Bill Harris, CEO, BIP Wealth
Bill Harris, CEO, BIP Wealth

Atlanta-based BIP Wealth agreed to acquire Columbus, Georgia-based The Money Advisor Group (TMAG), which has over $300 million in AUM, through the BIP Alliance initiative. The deal, which will increase BIP’s AUM to over $3.3 billion, is expected to close later in May.

BIP Wealth provides financial planning and investment management, including private market solutions, for high net worth individuals and families, institutional clients and corporate retirement plans. Tim Money, who founded TMAG in 2001, will remain as President of his team, all of whom are joining BIP Wealth.

“The TMAG acquisition will enable BIP to extend our unique value proposition in partnership with people who share our values,” said Bill Harris, CEO of BIP Wealth.  “BIP is thrilled to broaden our reach into the Columbus area and surrounding markets with Tim and his impressive team.”

Advisor Transactions

5. LPL Recruits Teams With $1.3 Billion From Lincoln, Cambridge And Ameriprise

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

LPL Financial announced the recruitment of three teams that collectively oversee more than $1.3 billion in assets, in the same week. Minden, Louisiana-based Strategic Wealth Partners joined from Lincoln Financial; Jefferson, Iowa-based Journey Financial joined from Cambridge; and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Guardian Partners Wealth Management joined from Ameriprise.

Strategic Wealth Partners consists of Ryan Rayburn, R.E. “Mike” Woodard III and a six-member office staff, who oversee approximately $860 million. Journey Financial consists of advisors Timothy Heisterkamp and Max Neese, with Registered Assistant Kim Bendickson, who oversee $200 million. Guardian Partners Wealth Management consists of father-son advisors Mitchell and Wesley McCann, with Office Manager Nicole Obarto, who oversee $240 million.

“We welcome Ryan, Mike and their team to the LPL community and are proud they recognized us as the ideal partner for the future of their business,” said Scott Posner, LPL Executive Vice President, Business Development. “We look forward to supporting Strategic Wealth Partners for years to come as they evolve their business and help clients work toward financial security.”

6. Janney Recruits Teams With $1.3 Billion From Baird, Wells Fargo And Merrill Lynch

Tim Jones, Complex Director, Janney Montgomery Scott
Tim Jones, Complex Director, Janney Montgomery Scott

Janney Montgomery Scott recruited The McCollum Group, which previously managed $535 million at Baird, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team is led by W. Travis McCollum, who is joined by Senior Registered Private Client Associate Jamie Halbig.

Janney also recently recruited Martha Busser, who joined the Bethesda, Maryland, office from Wells Fargo Advisors, where she managed $138 million. In addition, Janney recruited Shore to Shore Private Wealth from Merrill Lynch, where its advisors managed $600 million in Lewes, Delaware. That team is led by Michael Koppenhaver, and includes Account Executive Susan Damask, Senior Registered Client Relationship Associate Amy Gibson and Private Client Associate April Smith.

“We’re excited to continue the growth of our Charlotte office with the addition of The McCollum Group. Travis is a well-respected advisor and a valuable addition to the Janney team,” said Tim Jones, Complex Director. “Over the last several years we have added 12 advisors in the Charlotte Complex who desire the autonomy to serve their clients with resources that Janney provides.”

7. EP Wealth Adds Pro Athlete-Focused Advisors Joe Palumbo And Adam Fein

Ryan Parker, CEO, EP Wealth
Ryan Parker, CEO, EP Wealth

Torrance, California-based EP Wealth Advisors added Joe Palumbo and Adam Fein as Senior Vice Presidents as part of EP Wealth’s San Diego region. They focus on serving professional athletes, coaches, collegiate athletes with Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) deals and high net worth individuals.

Palumbo and Fein most recently worked at RBC Wealth Management as Vice President and Senior Financial Associate, respectively, in the Sports and Entertainment Practice Group. Their clients include athletes selected in the first round of last week’s NFL draft, NFL veterans and a UFC champion. EP Wealth managed $22.9 billion in assets as of March 31 across more than 30 offices in 12 states.

“Joe and Adam share our vision of enriching lives by understanding and addressing the unique needs of athletes and other high net worth individuals,” said Ryan Parker, CEO of EP Wealth Advisors. “Like our entire company, they have a growth mindset and entrepreneurial spirit, focusing on delivering excellent advice and service to clients.”

Promotions & People Moves

8. Eton Advisors Appoints Brian Hughes As President

Brian Hughes, President, Eton Advisors
Brian Hughes, President, Eton Advisors

Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Eton Advisors, an independent wealth advisory and multi-family office that had approximately $2 billion in AUM as of its March SEC ADV filing, appointed Brian Hughes as President.

Hughes has over three decades of leadership experience. Most recently, he served as CEO of Hughes Growth Strategy and Co-Founder of Touchpoint Growth Strategies, consultancies for financial services firms. Earlier in his career, Hughes was a Managing Director at Pitcairn and before that a Regional CEO and Lincoln Financial Advisors.

“Joining Eton Advisors is a homecoming of sorts for me,” Hughes said. “Having worked with nearly 75 firms as a consultant and led growth for two privately owned multi-family offices, I was blown away by their ability to leverage smart technology, a proprietary solution Eton Advisors created, to deliver a comprehensive family office experience.”

9. Focus Appoints Michael Nathanson As CEO, Dan Glaser As Executive Chairman

Michael Nathanson, CEO, Focus Financial Partners
Michael Nathanson, CEO, Focus Financial Partners

Focus Financial Partners appointed Michael Nathanson, President of Focus, as its CEO. Dan Glaser – Interim CEO for Focus; Chairman of the Focus Board of Directors; and Operating Partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), the majority investment partner for Focus – has been named Executive Chairman.

As CEO, Nathanson will lead ongoing strategic priorities including stronger collaboration across the Focus partnership. He also remains CEO of The Colony Group. Glaser has over 40 years of financial services experience, including as CEO of Marsh McLennan, one of the world’s leading professional services firms in the areas of risk and strategy.

“It’s been an honor serving as President of Focus and having the opportunity to work alongside Dan to build upon the momentum that he and so many others have created for our firm, our advisors and our clients,” Nathanson said. “We’ve made substantial progress already, and I look forward to continuing the work necessary to further evolve Focus into the unequivocal industry leader in the fiduciary advice space.”

Wirehouse / Big Bank Activity

10. J.P. Morgan Releases Inaugural Global Report On Family Offices

David Frame, CEO, J.P. Morgan U.S. Private Bank
David Frame, CEO, J.P. Morgan U.S. Private Bank

J.P. Morgan Private Bank released its inaugural Global Family Office Report, which is based on a survey of family office principals and professionals. It reveals data on how the firm’s family office clients worldwide manage investments, governance, succession planning and family office operations. The bank conducted an online survey from October through December 2023 among 190 family offices with an average net worth of $1.4 billion.

Almost 80% of family offices worked with external investment advisors, and the average portfolio had a 45% allocation to alternative assets with a target return of 11%, according to the report. Nearly 70% cited succession planning and preparing the next generation as a goal, and almost two-thirds have implemented a governance structure. The top three cited services gaps were in cybersecurity (40%), family governance and succession planning (31%), and family wealth education (31%).

“J.P. Morgan has been working with family offices for more than 200 years, starting close to home with the creation of one of the first family offices, the House of Morgan, established in 1838,” said David Frame, CEO of J.P. Morgan U.S. Private Bank. “This report reflects our continued commitment to understand and serve clients through a platform unmatched in this space.”

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

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