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Cresset office

Fast-Growing Cresset Acquires PagnatoKarp to Create $9.5 Billion RIA

This marks Cresset's third and largest deal since it was founded.

Cresset Asset Management, the fast-growing wealth manager headquartered in Chicago, announced it has acquired Reston, Va.-based PagnatoKarp, a former Hightower firm with $2.3 billion in client assets. The merger will create a $9.5 billion registered investment advisory, with eight offices across the country.

Cresset was founded by Eric Becker and Avy Stein in 2017 to serve the wealthiest clients and family offices. Becker and Stein came out of the private equity world, and bringing private placements to their wealthy clients has been a focus of the firm.   

PagnatoKarp was formed in 2011 when financial advisors Paul Pagnato and David Karp left Merrill Lynch after nearly 20 years with the bank. They initially joined Hightower Advisors, but the advisors left the firm in 2016, with about 10% of their advisory assets.

“PagnatoKarp was born during the Great Recession in reaction to the lack of transparency in the industry,” Pagnato said. “Our desire was to create a new paradigm for wealth management by democratizing the family office. In Cresset, we have found a partner that shares that vision and has the scale and depth of capabilities to greatly expand the services we offer to a broader segment of individuals and families.”

Cresset has been growing fast, through both recruitment and acquisition. In March, it added three advisors from Wilmington Trust, including Michael Mohr, Jack Sawyer and Todd Tautfest. And last May, it acquired Cypress Wealth Advisors, an independent RIA in San Francisco with $575 million in client assets.

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