Choreo, the registered investment advisor created earlier this year when private equity firm Parthenon Capital lifted out RSM’s wealth management business, has announced its first acquisition since becoming a stand-alone company. The firm is acquiring Enso Wealth Management, a $1.8 billion RIA in Petaluma, Calif., bringing Choreo’s total assets under management to about $13.5 billion.
The deal, which will bring Enso’s 13 advisors and nine support staff under Choreo’s brand, is expected to close by year-end. Jim DeCota, Enso co-founder and president, will serve as managing director.
The acquisition represents the first of many Choreo plans; in fact, about a handful of other RIAs have signed letters of intent to merge with the firm, said Larry Miles, a former principal at Steve Lockshin’s AdvicePeriod, who was brought on to serve as CEO.
“We think the advice industry is at a bit of an inflection point,” Miles said. “There are any number of firms aspiring to shape the future of the independent advisory community as we emerge from our industry. Choreo aspires to be one of those firms—a firm of size and scale with significant assets and offices across the country, not because bigger is better, but because we believe that by being bigger, we can impact more people’s lives.”
“We’re not a roll-up or an aggregator,” he added. “We’re focused on our clients. We aspire to build a world-class organization that lasts for 100 years.”
Choreo currently works with about 4,000 clients across 28 offices.
“Having been born to an accounting firm, Choreo has a unique background at the intersection of planning, investments, taxes that positions us well to be of maximum value to clients, their families and communities going forward,” Miles said.
Miles said all of the firms they’re considering acquiring put financial planning first, are tax-focused and take a holistic view of clients.
“We stand out in that regard, based on our history as well as plans going forward to digitally integrate all the financial needs of our clients, from investments to taxes and bill pay, help them with legal documents,” he said. “We’ll be that one phone call that they make that can get everything done that they need in their financial lives, and oftentimes their personal lives.”
Miles said the firm has invested significantly in its technology and people in the last year, adding subject matter experts, such as former trust and estate attorneys, and rolling out tech partnerships, such as the recent one with FMG Suite to launch a multichannel digital marketing and communications platform.
And while Schwab currently custodies the overwhelming majority of Choreo’s assets, Miles said the RIA is looking to add a second strategic custodial partner. The firm is specifically looking at some of the smaller, more technology-focused players, such as Apex or Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions.
“As we look at who might be that second key custodian for us, we’re looking at it through the lens of smaller, more interesting technology,” he said. “We think there’s some really fascinating components of what Apex and some of their competitors are doing. That’s definitely top of mind for us.”