Private equity–backed Clearstead Advisors, a Cleveland-based institutional and private client financial advisory firm, has acquired a local wealth management business as part of its dual growth strategy. This will be the sixth acquisition Clearstead has made in the past seven years, adding about $530 million to Clearstead’s $31 billion in assets under advisement.
On June 30, Clearstead signed a definitive agreement to acquire Scott Snow (financial advisors) LLC, an eponymous private wealth management firm founded by Managing Partner Scott Snow in 2005. Based in Westlake, Ohio, Snow advises high-net-worth families and provides holistic financial and tax planning services.
Clearstead Chairman and CEO Dave Fulton said his firm has a dual growth strategy consisting of organic growth and inorganic growth via acquisitions when it finds the right match.
“That’s what we did with Scott Snow,” he said. “Scott is an exceptional professional and he’s an expert in tax, an expert in financial planning. And he’s built a great business with great clients. So, the cultural overlap with us was almost 100% and that’s what was attractive about him.”
Snow will join Clearstead as senior managing director and partner in the firm’s Private Wealth Management Group.
“Clearstead is a nationally recognized and well-respected wealth management firm,” Snow said in a statement, “and I look forward to joining such a talented group of people and enhancing our overall client success.”
Snow will operate under the Clearstead Advisors name out of his current office in Westlake.
Last October, private equity firm Flexpoint Ford made a majority investment in Clearstead, allowing private equity firm Rosemont Investment Partners to exit its minority stake in the RIA. The investment was meant to help Clearstead accelerate its organic growth as well as the pace of acquisitions.
When looking at potential partners, Fulton said that both capabilities and regional location are factors. Firms that can complement Clearstead’s strengths, which include business development, investment research, client service and reporting, he said, “would be especially attractive to us.”
Fulton added the firm would prioritize locations within a five-hour drive from Cleveland, followed by growing markets that could be reached via direct flight. He would also consider firms near Portland, Maine, where the firm’s Plimsoll Mark Capital division (acquired in 2014) is located, as well as a trust company acquired by Clearstead last summer. (The firm does not custody advisor accounts there, and Fulton said it has no plans to do so.)
Fulton stressed that mergers and acquisitions activity would be used to create more opportunity for, rather than replace, organic growth.
“We're intentional about organic growth,” he said. “We think that creates opportunities for younger people in our firm and that it results in better and broader services to our clients. So that's something we really work at. We will complement that with acquisitions from time to time.”
Founded in 1989, Clearstead currently employs more than 120 individuals who help address complex investment, financial, tax and governance needs for both institutional and private clients.