Deals & Recruiting Roundup: AlphaCore, Focus, EP Wealth, Cetera, BNY And More

M&A By Focus, EP Wealth And WEG. Recruitments By Cetera, LPL And Private Advisor Group. Grandview & Co. Coaching Firm Launches. Strategic Appointments By Wealthspire, AssetMark And BNY. And Aidan Walsh Of AlphaCore Is Our Newest Recruiter of the Month.
Recruiter Of The Month: Aidan Walsh, Head Of Corporate Development, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory
Recruiter Of The Month: Aidan Walsh, Head Of Corporate Development, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory
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, Aidan Walsh, Head of Corporate Development at AlphaCore Wealth Advisory.

We also cover Focus agreeing for Relative Value Partners Group to join Kovitz Investment Group Partners, EP Wealth Advisors acquiring Sloan Investment Management, Wealth Enhancement Group acquiring Starfox Financial Services, Cetera recruiting three advisors, LPL onboarding five advisors, Private Advisor Group bringing on Delisanti Wealth Management, Steven Tenney launching the Grandview & Co. coaching firm, AssetMark hiring Desireé Sii as Head of Strategic Accounts, Wealthspire appointing Eric Castillo as CTO and promoting Angela Giombetti to CMO, and Jose Minaya becoming Global Head of BNY Investments and Wealth.

Larry’s Take

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

Many M&A deals involve RIA owners selling to outside buyers. Those owners usually have key personnel, including high-performing advisors, who helped them achieve success over years and sometimes decades. But those employees often lack the capital to buy the firm themselves.

Or at least not at a competitive valuation. The deep pockets of private equity firms in the RIA space have accelerated this trend. RIA owners also must retain key personnel after the sale, in order to keep operations running smoothly, retain clients, hit earnouts and avoid clawbacks.

This is why some owners give key personnel equity stakes in the firm long before pursuing M&A, give high-performing advisors bonuses in relation to a successful M&A transaction and only sell to buyers that employees are comfortable with staying on for over the long term.

Alternatively, RIA owners could focus on achieving high-margin organic growth at such a scale that their key personnel can eventually accumulate the capital to purchase the firm at a fair market price. While harder to accomplish, this can be the most rewarding outcome for everyone.

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. Focus Agrees For Kovitz To Acquire $2.6 Billion Relative Value Partners

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

Focus Financial Partners agreed for Northbrook, Illinois-based partner firm Relative Value Partners Group (RVP) to formally join the Chicago-based Focus firm Kovitz Investment Group Partners. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, and the combined firm is expected to manage over $24 billion in client assets measured as of May 31.

RVP, whose origins go back to 2004, became a Focus partner firm in 2015. It was founded by Maury Fertig and Robert Huffman. In addition to serving high net worth individuals, family offices and small institutions, RVP is a multi-cap manager that builds diversified portfolios. RVP had nearly $2.6 billion in assets under management (AUM) as of its April SEC ADV filing. Kovitz joined Focus in 2016.

“We are excited to see the talented teams of Kovitz and RVP collaborating on opportunities to offer elevated advice and solutions for clients,” said Michael Nathanson, CEO of Focus. “We are confident that this transaction will help to strengthen their capabilities, further scale their offerings and empower clients with even more ways to achieve their financial goals.”

2. EP Wealth Acquires $700 Million Sloan Investment Management In Dallas

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

EP Wealth Advisors acquired Dallas-based Sloan Investment Management, which manages approximately $700 million in client assets. Managing Partner Frank Sloan becomes Regional Director, Partner at EP Wealth. He is joined by Casey Conway and James Henry as Partners and Senior Vice Presidents, Shannen Smith as Vice President, and Sloan’s support staff.

Sloan is EP Wealth’s third acquisition of 2024 and its 32nd since taking a minority investment from Wealth Partners Capital Group in 2017. In April, EP Wealth acquired San Luis Obispo, California-based Wacker Wealth Partners, which had nearly $1.2 billion in AUM. The Sloan deal boosts EP Wealth’s AUM to $25.2 billion. EP Wealth has more than 35 offices in 12 states.

“EP Wealth partners with firms that share our commitment to delivering an excellent experience to clients, fostering an environment for our employees to build a career and embracing an entrepreneurial spirit that never rests on our laurels,” said Ryan Parker, CEO of EP Wealth. “As we have gotten to know Frank and his team, we are confident that they embody these elements of our culture and are excited to welcome them to our growing, nationwide firm.”

3. Wealth Enhancement Group Acquires $254 Million Starfox Financial Services

Jeff Dekko, CEO, Wealth Enhancement Group
Jeff Dekko, CEO, Wealth Enhancement Group

Wealth Enhancement Group (WEG), which has over $85.3 billion in client assets, acquired The Woodlands, Texas-based Starfox Financial Services. Founding Partner & Wealth Advisor Jose Palafox and Partner & Wealth Advisor Bill Friebel lead the RIA, which manages over $254 million in client assets.

Founded in 2006, Starfox provides financial planning, retirement planning, college planning, investment management and retirement income planning. The team also helps businesses manage their retirement plans and improve the financial literacy of their workforces. The deal marks WEG’s sixth location in Texas.

“I’m pleased to welcome Jose, Bill and their team to Wealth Enhancement Group,” said WEG CEO Jeff Dekko. “The team at Starfox Financial Services treats their clients like family and cares deeply for their community. The level of dedicated, personal attention and care they provide makes them a great fit for our firm, and I’m glad they chose to join us.”

Advisor Transactions

4. Cetera Recruits 3 Advisors In New York And Texas, Adding Over $234 Million

Tim Stinson, Vice Chair, Financial Services Institute and President, Cetera Advisor Networks
Tim Stinson, Vice Chair, Financial Services Institute and President, Cetera Advisor Networks

Cetera Advisors recruited Plattsburgh, New York-based Paul Seymour and Nicole Parker from Cadaret Grant, via Summit Financial Networks. Their firm, Financial Services, had over $113 million in assets under administration as of March 1. Summit has $20 billion in assets.

Cetera Advisor Networks recruited Laredo, Texas-based Jake Spruiell, whose Sonterra Wealth Management had over $121 million in assets under administration as of May 31. Spruiell, who has 25 years of industry experience, previously worked at PNC Investments.

“Paul and Nicole are seasoned and dynamic advisors who make a formidable team. I’m proud to welcome both to our community,” said Cetera Advisors President and CEO Tom Halloran. “Jake is an experienced and well-rounded advisor who I’m proud to welcome to our community,” said Cetera Advisor Networks President Tim Stinson.

5. LPL Onboards 5 Advisors Representing $830 Million

Scott Posner, EVP of Business Development, LPL Financial
Scott Posner, EVP of Business Development, LPL Financial

LPL Financial onboarded five advisors who collectively represent $830 million in client assets. Danielle Qualls left Stifel to join Wichita, Kansas-based Bergkamp Financial. Bergkamp is led by Managing Partners Amy McKinley and Lori Zern, and also includes advisors Ryan Zern and Sam Milner along with assistant Katherine Reif.

Father-daughter duo James and Amanda Zack left Morgan Stanley to launch Washington, D.C.-based The Zack Wealth Group and join the employee advisor channel Linsco by LPL Financial. Thomas Cooney and Mark Freed, with Director of Operations Vicki Pearce, left PNC Investments to align their Wilmington, Delaware-based First Summit Capital Management with Momentum Wealth Partners.

“As the industry continues to evolve, more advisors are looking for a partner that provides flexibility and customization to create differentiated experiences for their clients,” said Scott Posner, LPL Executive Vice President, Business Development. “At LPL, we understand that and are committed to providing advisors with sophisticated resources and curated choices to create their ideal practice.”

6. Private Advisor Group Brings On $155 Million Delisanti Wealth Management

Robb Delisanti, Owner and President, Delisanti Wealth Management

Morristown, New Jersey-based Private Advisor Group brought on Delisanti Wealth Management, a Rochester, New York-based firm led by Owner and President Robb Delisanti that oversees $155 million in AUM.

Delisanti works largely with investors from Kodak, University of Rochester, Xerox, L3 Harris and Bausch & Lomb. He has approximately 23 years of industry experience. Private Advisor Group, which was founded in 1997, had over $31.5 billion in AUM as of Dec. 31. Its multi-custodian offering factored into Delisanti’s decision to join.

“Joining Private Advisor Group marks a significant milestone for Delisanti Wealth Management,” said Robb Delisanti. “We are excited about the enhanced support and resources we can now offer our clients, enabling us to focus even more on their unique financial needs and goals.”

Strategic Partnerships

7. Industry Veteran Steven Tenney Launches Grandview & Co. Coaching Firm

Steven Tenney, Founder and Coach, Grandview & Co.
Steven Tenney, Founder and Coach, Grandview & Co.

Steven Tenney, who has over 30 years of financial industry experience, launched the Falmouth, Maine-based wealth management coaching firm Grandview & Co. The new firm addresses the challenges that wealth management leaders face, including multiple roles, growth strategies, succession planning and work-life balance.

Most recently, Tenney was Founding Partner and CEO of the independently-owned wealth management firm Great Diamond Partners, which oversees $700 million in client assets. Previously, he was a Senior Portfolio Manager at UBS. Before that, Tenney worked at State Street and Morgan Stanley.

“I am thrilled to announce the launch of Grandview & Co.,” Tenney said. “Our mission is to empower wealth management leaders. They are already successful, realize there’s more to accomplish and appreciate guidance to help them reach new levels of success.”

8. AssetMark Hires Desireé Sii As VP, Head Of Strategic Accounts

Desireé Sii, Vice President, Head of Strategic Accounts, AssetMark
Desireé Sii, Vice President, Head of Strategic Accounts, AssetMark

AssetMark appointed former SagePoint Financial CEO Desireé Sii as Vice President, Head of Strategic Accounts. Sii, who has over 20 years of industry experience, started her new position in May. She previously was Managing Director, Supervision and Controls at Charles Schwab; Vice President, Supervision at Royal Alliance Associates; and VP of Operations and Compliance at Willamette Financial Group.

Sii’s appointment comes soon after AssetMark announced that it would acquire approximately $12 billion in assets from Morningstar Wealth’s turnkey asset management platform (TAMP). Advisors and clients on Morningstar Wealth’s TAMP will have access to AssetMark’s platform. Advisors who already were working with AssetMark will gain access to model portfolios and separately managed accounts (SMAs) managed by Morningstar Investment Management.

“AssetMark is a leading provider of comprehensive wealth management and technology solutions, dedicated to empowering financial advisors and their clients,” Sii posted on LinkedIn. “I am honored to join such a forward-thinking organization.”

Promotions & People Moves

9. Wealthspire Appoints Eric Castillo As CTO, Promotes Angela Giombetti To CMO

Mike LaMena, CEO, Wealthspire
Mike LaMena, CEO, Wealthspire

Wealthspire Advisors, a New York-based NFP company and independent RIA, appointed Eric Castillo as Chief Technology Officer and promoted Angela Giombetti to Chief Marketing Officer. Wealthspire and its subsidiaries had $25.86 billion in AUM as of March 31, more than 20 locations and over 300 team members. NFP is an Aon company.

Castillo has over 16 years of IT leadership experience. Most recently, he served as Chief Information Officer at LionTree, a global technology and media investment bank. Before that, he was Chief Technology Officer at Dynasty Financial Partners. Giombetti has over 20 years in the financial services industry. Most recently, she was Head of Marketing at Wealthspire. Before that, she was Head of Marketing at Private Ocean Wealth Management.

“This expansion of our leadership team reflects our unwavering commitment to attract and cultivate the best talent in our industry,” said Wealthspire CEO Mike LaMena. “The expertise that Eric and Angela bring to their respective roles will take our organization to new heights as we further our mission of serving our clients and our people at the highest level.”

Wirehouse Activity

10. BNY Appoints Jose Minaya As Global Head Of BNY Investments And Wealth

Jose Minaya, Global Head, BNY Investments and Wealth, BNY
Jose Minaya, Global Head, BNY Investments and Wealth, BNY

BNY appointed Jose Minaya as Global Head of BNY Investments and Wealth, effective Sept. 3, as Hanneke Smits transitions into the role of Chair of BNY Investments through the end of 2024 before her retirement. Minaya has nearly 30 years of financial services experience.

Most recently, he served as CEO of Nuveen, where he earlier served as President and Chief Investment Officer. Before that, Minaya held several leadership roles at TIAA, which bought Nuveen in 2014. He also has worked at AIG, Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan. As of March 31, BNY oversaw $48.8 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $2 trillion in AUM.

“I am delighted to join BNY, a historic institution with a legacy of helping clients achieve their ambitions and advancing the future of finance, and to lead a globally renowned asset management and wealth franchise with deep relationships around the world,” Minaya said.

Recruiter Of The Month: Aidan Walsh, Head Of Corporate Development, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory

Aidan Walsh, Head of Corporate Development, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory
Aidan Walsh, Head of Corporate Development, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory

La Jolla, California-based AlphaCore Wealth Advisory, which has $2.8 billion in AUM, brought on Aidan Walsh as Head of Corporate Development in May and Brian Habas as Chief Operating Officer in June.

Walsh previously worked at Focus and RBC Capital Markets. Habas previously worked at LPL and T. Rowe Price. Since receiving a strategic investment from Constellation Wealth Capital in December, AlphaCore has made 12 new hires.

And now for our Q&A with Walsh.

WSR: What are AlphaCore’s advisory recruitment and M&A goals over the course of the next year?

Walsh: AlphaCore does not have specific goals for deal volume or assets acquired over the next year. Our objective is to execute M&A with deliberate purpose, aiming to add expertise and strengths to our established core team.

In the near term, we are focused on identifying top-tier talent and building long-term relationships with prospects, meeting them where they are in their process and positioning ourselves well for future opportunities. Our aim is to expand core capabilities, acquire talent and complementary skills, enhance our leadership team, and improve our geographic footprint in existing and new markets where significant opportunities await.

WSR: What makes AlphaCore stand out as a destination of choice to desirable advisors and advisory teams?

Walsh: AlphaCore stands out due to our boutique culture, strong investment expertise and a supportive business development team. We have built a strong reputation by delivering an exceptional client experience rooted in dynamic culture and leadership. Our principals are actively involved in business operations and strategy, continuously evolving to integrate diverse perspectives.

Our investment platform offers enhanced open architecture supported by a dedicated team with extensive trading, investing and risk management experience. We have also invested in a business development team to support advisors by handling new leads, allowing them to focus on exceptional client service.

WSR: What are the characteristics of the ideal advisor and advisory team recruit candidates for AlphaCore?

Walsh: At AlphaCore, we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all criteria for ideal recruits. We seek individuals who embody our values and culturally align with the team. We want team players that are committed to integrating into the business, rather than hanging a shingle on the brand for scale or resources but hoping to operate independently.

We want growth centric, entrepreneurial leaders to participate and strive to meet our long-term growth goals. We value finding the right people to expand the leadership team and add skills and capabilities across investments, family office services and client experience to continue enhancing the AlphaCore story.

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

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