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HD Vest, 1st Global Brands to Die as Blucora Combines the B/Ds

Blucora’s combining its broker/dealers under the newly formed Avantax Wealth Management, in an effort to emphasize its 4,200 advisors’ tax specialty.

Blucora, the parent company of tax-focused independent broker/dealers HD Vest Financial Services and 1st Global, announced plans Monday to combine the two b/ds into a new one called Avantax Wealth Management. The HD Vest and 1st Global brands will be retired.

HD Vest, founded over 35 years ago by a CPA, was acquired by Blucora in 2015 for $580 million. 1st Global, acquired by the firm earlier this year for $180 million, was established over 25 years ago, with a focus on larger CPA practices. Together, the firms have 4,200 advisors with $67 billion in client assets.

The two back offices will be combined into one location; Enrique Vasquez, president of Avantax, said the teams have already started working together.

“These organizations, while similar in nature as far as working with tax professionals, focus on two different sets of the market,” Vasquez said. “The HD Vest organization has historically focused on smaller, sole practitioners, while the 1st Global organization has focused on working with larger CPA practices.

“This combination of our teams allows us to, on the front end, continue to focus and help those advisors grow in the different areas that they’re in but operationally support them with one location and one operating platform.”

The rebranding also helps communicate their tax-focused approach, he added.

“These two firms were the leaders in getting tax professionals and accountants able to provide broader financial services to their clients,” he said. “We believe that every investment decision, at the end of the day, involves a tax decision, and therefore we want to position our advisors to make sure that they’re doing everything in a tax-smart way.”

“Back office operations have been problematic at HD Vest for several years,” said Jonathan Henschen, president of recruiting firm Henschen & Associates in Marine on St. Croix, Minn. “Building out the back office staff of 1st Global, which has been much more efficient, could lift up the quality of back office services for HD Vest advisors.”

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