United Capital Financial Advisers has acquired three registered investment advisors with a combined $758 million in assets under management, a move that underscores the fact that consolidators are dominating the mergers and acquisitions market this year.
“Today’s environment will probably play into United Capital’s hand, to a degree; advisors in today’s marketplace are more open to giving up degrees of control in exchange for taking some of the headaches off their plate,” said David DeVoe, managing partner at DeVoe & Company, which just released the most recent Nuveen/DeVoe RIA Deal Book. “In many cases, these multibillion-dollar firms are becoming more attractive to advisors because they’re literally enabling those advisors to focus more on what they really enjoy doing—which is serving clients.”
Year to date, consolidators have accounted for more than 50 percent of RIA acquisitions, up from 44 percent in 2016, according to Nuveen/DeVoe.
“Part of it is a numbers game,” DeVoe added. “The consolidators have continued to hire M&A people, and consequently, they’re likely having more conversations with potential sellers and other buyers in the marketplace.”
The firms joining United Capital include Jensen Wealth Advisors in Palm Desert, Calif.; Compass Wealth Advisors in Elkhart, Ind.; and Asset One, with offices in Colorado and Mandeville, La.
“Our industry faces powerful headwinds that are forcing change everywhere you look,” said Thomas Baumler, CEO of Asset One, with $403 million in client assets, in a statement. “United Capital appeals to us because of its systems for client acquisition, retention and growth. It didn’t require us to reinvent the wheel.”
The first six months of 2017 resulted in 82 transactions, up from 71 in the same period a year ago.
“I think there are a lot of strategic firms that are providing something beyond simply a check, and that’s a path towards relevancy; it’s a path towards differentiation; it’s a path of operational scale,” said Matt Brinker, head of national partner development at United Capital.