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Mercer Acquires Tennessee-Based RIA HawsGoodwin

Mercer’s deal with HawsGoodwin Wealth comes the same week it announced its acquisition of Cordasco Financial Network, a $510 million Florida RIA.

Mercer Advisors is buying a Tennessee-based firm with about $680 million in assets and 280 clients, the second acquisition the wealth management firm has announced in as many days.

HawsGoodwin Wealth, based out of Franklin, Tenn., was founded in 2008 by CEO Art Haws and President Cam Goodwin, and the entire team will be making the move to Mercer along with the firm’s principals, who will continue to run the office. The firm specializes in providing comprehensive planning and management services for high-net-worth individuals, families and corporate clients. 

According to Haws, he and Goodwin were not looking to sell their company when they were introduced to Dave Barton, Mercer’s M&A leader. The team was originally skeptical about discussing acquisition options.

“Through our meetings we learned we could continue running our office, offload the things we don’t like doing like compliance and HR, freeing up more time doing what we do best, which is serving clients and winning new ones,” Goodwin said. “It was less about succession planning and much more about optimizing for the future and enabling Art and me to focus on those things that add the most value to us personally and professionally.”

Haws also liked that Mercer could allow them to offer a greater array of services to clients, including estate and tax planning and analysis, and more options for family offices.

“Cam and I also admired the career path opportunities and training programs they had for our staff that foment substantive career development opportunities beyond what we could provide,” he said. “At the end, it was the best decision for us and gave us immediate scale and time leverage.”

Mercer Advisors is based out of Denver and is one of the country’s largest RIAs, with more than $37 billion in AUM. In total, the firm has more than 640 employees and more than 60 offices throughout the country; Barton said he was pleased the firm was acquiring a Franklin, Tenn.–based firm, calling it one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Mercer also announced this week it was acquiring Cordasco Financial Network, a $510 million AUM firm based out of Naples, Fla., with more than 500 clients. CEO Steve Cordasco founded the firm in 2011, which focuses on “tax-centric” financial advice, using CPAs to make sure clients’ tax consequences are duly considered when crafting a wealth management strategy. 

While the firm grew quickly, Cordasco realized it lacked the scale to accommodate the back-office needs that accompanied such growth.

“I saw David Barton … speak at an industry conference and he coined the phrase, ‘You either need to build scale, or join it, if you want to remain competitive,’” Cordasco said. “I decided to join it rather than build it.”

Mercer’s been on a multiyear run of M&A activity, making 13 acquisitions in 2020, with seven of those deals announced in December 2020 alone. In 2021, Mercer made 12 acquisitions in total, including HawsGoodwin and Cordasco, which closed on Dec. 31. 

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