Buckingham's taste for CPA-related advisors grows

Buckingham's taste for CPA-related advisors grows

Adam Birenbaum 0205Certified public accountants and Buckingham Asset Management seem to be simpatico. Buckingham recently announced its third acquisition of a registered investment advisor in the past 12 months, deals that brought on more than $500 million in AUM; all three deals derived from firms with CPA roots. Such firms tend to have “consultative, planning first” approaches to investing, Buckingham Chief Executive Adam Birenbaum (right) said, which dovetail nicely with Buckingham focus on financial planning and passive investing.

Look for more deals ahead, Birenbaum added. Buckingham, which ranked 11th on Registered Rep.'s Top 50 Asset Manager RIAs this year, wants to position itself as a way for advisors in their 50s and 60s to set up exit strategies for their practices. Birenbaum said that was partly behind this month’s deal to acquire KB Investment Advisors LLC from the CPA firm of Kiefer Bonfanti & Co., which, like Buckingham, is in St. Louis, Mo. KB has nearly $70 million in assets. In April, Buckingham facilitated a retirement transition by acquiring RNM Financial Management in Soldotna, Alaska, with assets of about $50 million.

“We think the need will only increase. We hope to be at the forefront of it,” Birenbaum said. Firms with less than $100 million in assets are particularly underserved in the market for consolidations that provide transition options for practice owners, he said.

Terms on none of Buckingham's deals were released. The big acquisition a year ago was Wealth Management Consultants in Santa Rosa, Calif., which had $400 million in AUM and a staff of seven, including three wealth advisors. Birenbaum said Buckingham’s decision to join Focus Financial Partners in early 2007 has helped the company with its expansion plans. Since the Focus deal, assets at Buckingham and its sister firm, BAM Advisor Services, a provider of RIA back-office support, have grown from $10 billion to just above $14 billion, Birenbaum said.

“We're not looking for money managers,” Birenbaum said. “We're looking for wealth advisors, those folks who combine the science of investing, or passive management, with true wealth management.”

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