Transcend Partner Group, a new consolidator of registered investment advisors led by two seasoned RIA executives, has partnered with Lincoln Investment Planning, a hybrid RIA and broker/dealer to fund and bring to market a new wealth management platform for fee-only RIAs.
Founded in early 2022, Transcend is led by co-founders Scott Rister, CEO, and Paul Stetz, president. Each has spent more than 20 years in the industry, serving in leadership at multi-billion-dollar RIAs as well as with custodial firms Charles Schwab and Fidelity. From 2018 to 2019, Stetz ran the M&A division for the highly acquisitive Mercer Global Advisors, which oversees more than $30 billion in total client assets, and Rister spent nearly three years as president at $3.5 billion RIA Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.
The firm will become a subsidiary of Lincoln Investment Capital Holdings, the parent company of Lincoln Investment.
“We were looking for an RIA solution and found it in Transcend,” Lincoln CEO Ed Forst said in a statement. “We have been interested in opportunities to work with advisors to deepen relationships with existing clients and continue to attract new ones.”
While Lincoln already operates as a hybrid firm with an RIA arm, they were looking to add a business focused exclusively on the fiduciary side of wealth management, said Rister and Stetz.
And Transcend has spent much of the last year looking for a partner with wealth management experience and capabilities before completing any acquisitions—something they have yet to do.
“Lincoln has some middle office functionality that we'll be able to leverage out of the gate and are nondisruptive to the employees and client experience,” said Rister. “Things like HR, compliance, accounting and building other things that advisors don’t really want to do. In terms of building out the platform, we’ve taken the approach that we’re going to build it through acquisition.”
Transcend is currently in talks with a number of larger firms with institutionalized capabilities that can be leveraged and integrated into the nascent platform, he said. Established firms with assets north of $750 million and established business models and brands are also considered attractive targets, said both partners, as are firms that are invested in talent.
“We're aligning with firms who have thought about the future talent of the organization,” said Rister. “We don't necessarily want to have to step in and work at a local level with these firms, so the right partners for us are going to be ones that have already started to make that investment in talent and the next generation of leaders—and we can come alongside of them and really help to augment that going forward.”
“It’s really about empowering the existing leadership teams of our partners to continue to execute on their strategy with fairly minimal disruption,” agreed Stetz. “It’s a big part of not only our entity structure, but certainly also our deal structure. We want our partners to continue to be entrepreneurs and our structure allows them to continue to do that in a meaningful way.”
Acquisitions will be 100% and include equity, they said, but partner firms won’t be required to adopt Transcend branding, limited to its platform offerings or subject to interference with respect to practice management or investment strategies.
“We probably wouldn't do a deal without rolled equity because of the fact that we're not forcing any integration,” said Stetz. “We think if we're all rowing in the same direction, we all have a vested interest alongside of the capital partner to drive profitable growth over the long term. The other element of it is the ability to provide equity ownership–type opportunities to the next generation of leadership in these organizations.”
In addition to providing capital and an expanding menu of platform capabilities, Rister and Stetz said they will put their own experience and professional reputations to work, leveraging relationships, experience and credibility in service of partner firms.
“They bring deep relationships across the RIA ecosystem,” said Forst, “and proven executive leadership to oversee the success of the new business.”
Lincoln was introduced to Transcend by DeVoe & Co., an investment bank devoted to M&A within the fiduciary wealth management space.
CEO David DeVoe said that managing director Francine Miltenberger identified Transcend as the "ideal" partner for Lincoln.
“Francine Miltenberger saw the Transcend puzzle piece would enable Lincoln to take its inorganic growth strategy to the next level,” he said. “And Transcend's strategy of being a consolidator of RIAs would accelerate with Lincoln's long-term capital. A powerful match with mutual benefits."