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Kent Weldon and Russ Norwood
Bravura Capital's Kent Weldon (left) and Venturi Private Wealth founder Russ Norwood

Venturi Sells Minority Stake to Bravura Capital

Private equity veteran Kent Weldon has made a private investment in Venturi Private Wealth, a fast-growing RIA founded by Merrill Lynch veteran Russ Norwood.

Venturi Private Wealth, a Texas-based registered investment advisor with $2.1 billion in client assets, has sold a minority stake in its business to Bravura Capital, the private investment vehicle of Kent Weldon, a longtime advisory partner at private equity firm Thomas H. Lee.    

Venturi was founded in 2015 by Russ Norwood, who left Merrill Lynch after a 24-year career at the wirehouse. The firm primarily focuses on what Norwood calls “first generation wealth creators,” such as business owners going through M&A activity and public company executives.

“They go through a liquidity event for the first time, and have a whole host of problems that they need to solve for that maybe they didn’t have previously because they have large amounts of liquidity, they have estate planning issues, they have family dynamics and governance issues,” Norwood said.

Over the last five years, Venturi has grown at a 30% compound annual growth rate. Norwood said his firm decided a few years ago to explore bringing on a capital partner to help with the next stage of growth; he has plans to grow to $10 billion in client assets over the next several years.

As Norwood and his team met with different capital partners, they decided against the private equity route. They were looking for a long-term capital partner, not an investor that would be looking for a liquidity event in a few years.

“We had conversations and opportunities with private equity partners, but the timeline typically and the motivations from the private equity side, we didn’t feel like was the best fit for our view of the industry,” he said.

Alternatively, Venturi also did not want to sell to an RIA roll-up model, especially given its plans to expand in the Southwest region.  

“My personal view is that national roll-ups are really going to be challenged to integrate cultures, ultimately,” Norwood said. “They have tailwinds right now because of great markets, but maintaining what we want to maintain internally—which I think has been part of the DNA of our growth—is critically important to us. We wanted to focus on building a regional partnership because we sit right in the middle of one of the best growth markets in the country right now.”

Weldon has made a private, long-term investment in the company. Venturi plans to leverage his expertise in the alternative and private equity space, as well as his connections throughout the wealth management industry.

He said he sees a lot of growth opportunities in the wealth management and independent RIA space.

“The growth of global wealth, if you will, over a long period of time—we’ve seen that compound at attractive rates,” Weldon said. “As Russ’s business and Venturi—they’re independent wealth management, which is taking more than their pro-rata share of the growth in global wealth assets, as people migrate out of the wirehouse world or other channels that might be a little more conflicted.”

He’s also bullish on the demand for financial advice.

“Clients are really seeking out exceptional advice, and a trusted relationship. That makes the business very sticky, if you will, very rewarding for the advisors and the clients, and in the long run, those companies that have built themselves around those mantras will continue to take share in the industry and grow their business.”

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