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Joe Duran Photo: Joseph Llanes
United Capital CEO Joe Duran

Goldman Sachs Reportedly Buying United Capital

The RIA, founded and led by CEO Joe Duran, would be rolled into Goldman’s existing wealth management business in an effort to target more mass-affluent clients.

Goldman Sachs is in talks to acquire United Capital Financial Partners, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based registered investment advisor with about $24 billion in assets and 95 offices around the country, according to reports by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. But those talks could fail.

According to reports, the firm, founded and led by CEO Joe Duran, would be rolled into Goldman’s existing wealth management business as part of an effort to appeal to mass-affluent clients.

In recent months, the investment bank has been shifting its strategy for the wealth management business away from targeting ultra-high-net-worth individuals toward the mass affluent. Its automated advice platform, or so-called robo advisor, Marcus, which offers personal loans and deposit accounts online, is one recent initiative toward that strategy. The firm expects it to eventually offer mortgages, credit cards and retirement planning products.

Duran did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment. 

Duran founded United Capital in 2005, and it quickly became one of the more unique financial planning retail-facing RIAs in the country. At the beginning, the firm saw rapid growth, primarily through acquisitions of smaller RIAs.  

But more recently, the firm has made a big bet on its white-label technology platform, FinLife Partners, which now has 38 firms with $22.5 billion in assets, up from just $8 billion on the platform in June 2018. Duran said he expects the white-label business to be twice the size of the RIA by year-end. 

In 2014, profiled Duran, focusing more on the journey that shaped his ambitions. He grew up in the war-torn Republic of Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe), an orphaned state in southern Africa and a colonial legacy of the British Empire struggling, violently, with a system of white-minority rule and racial segregation. Horror stories of families being murdered in their homes by black nationalists were common.

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