RIA Rising

DeVoe leaves Schwab, launches M&A consultancy

David DeVoe estimates he’s advised more than 300 RIAs in his role in the mergers and acquisitions space at Schwab Advisor Services in the past eight years. Now DeVoe has quit his post as managing director, strategic business development for Schwab to start his own consultancy for financial advisors—chiefly RIAs—with M&A needs in the wealth management and investment management space.

DeVoe, 44, said he stayed with Schwab long enough to get through the company’s annual IMPACT conference in San Francisco the first week of this month (you can see a discussion he and I had on at the conference on merger issues on Rep. TV here) before launching DeVoe & Company. His responsibilities at Schwab included preparing white papers and reports on the state of the advisor merger industry. Among other things, the experience at Schwab provided him with “really powerful networking” that’s already bringing in customers, he said.

“Schwab clearly invested aggressively in helping advisors with mergers and acquisitions, but our legal team doesn’t want us to get into investment banking … DeVoe & Company gives me the opportunity to be completely involved in all aspects of the transaction,” he said.

The industry’s going through “a natural period of consolidation” and is likely to see continued merger activity over the next seven to 10 years, DeVoe says. Part of it is demographics; the average age of an advisor is 54, and close to 30 percent are older than 60. Advisors are using mergers to achieve goals outside of growth, he says, such as setting up a succession plan, adding new services, or expanding the practice’s geographical footprint. Banks, which stepped away from acquiring FA firms a few years ago, are re-entering the market, he added. And RIA aggregators have announced sizable deals this year.

His first client: someone with up to $2 billion in assets looking to acquire two other firms, one with $120 million in AUM and another with $250 million in AUM. “They’re both acquisitions that would create transformation change to the organization, and that’s a key focus on what I want to do,” he said.

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