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Creative Planning Acquires Mesirow’s Retirement Services Business

The deal adds over 350 retirement plans and about $13 billion in assets to Creative Planning’s existing retirement plan services team.

Creative Planning, the Kansas City, Kan.–based independent registered investment advisor run by founder and CEO Peter Mallouk, has acquired Mesirow’s corporate retirement advisory services business, adding over 350 retirement plans and about $13 billion in assets under advisement and management to the RIA’s existing retirement business.

Mesirow’s team is led by David Dermenjian, Chris Pohlman, Vince Allegra and Chuck Lawless.

“Their commitment to tailoring financial solutions while championing social responsibility aligns perfectly with our values,” Mallouk said in a statement. “They are well-equipped to address the retirement needs of plan sponsors, plan participants, investors and non-qualified plans."

Creative Planning has been quickly building up a significant retirement plan advisor business over the last several years, buying IRON Financial’s retirement division and Lockton’s $110 billion retirement plan business. The retirement planf business now represents over $137 billion in assets under advisement at Creative Planning.

Dermenjian said Mesirow decided to sell because they recognized a need for greater scale and resources. The team can now bring new products and technologies to clients, he said.  

Creative Planning has been on an accelerated growth trajectory since selling a minority stake to General Atlantic in early 2020, ending that year with around $50 billion in assets after completing eight acquisitions. In 2021, five more deals were announced that more than doubled assets to $210 billion, including the Lockton acquisition. After buying 12 more firms last year, Mallouk said in August the firm would take a pause to focus on developing existing and acquired capabilities and return to the market with a more an acquisition strategy that may see fewer deals done with more strategic targets.

When Creative Planning announced its next acquisition the following spring—$1 billion AUM Telarray Advisors—Mallouk indicated they would focus on larger deals going forward and a spokesperson for the firm said that strategy has not changed. 

Creative Planning has since acquired $2.5 billion BerganKDV, $240 million CTB Financial Services, and $1 billion Kistler-Tiffany Advisors.

The firm also recently announced its planned acquisition of Goldman Sachs PFM, expected to close in November. Several large advisor teams have left Goldman since the firm announced the sale, defecting to firms including Prime Capital Investment Advisors, Farther and Quotient, to name a few. Goldman Sachs PFM had some $13 billion in AUM, according to a July regulatory filing. 

To be sure, advisors who stay through the Creative Planning acquisition will not simply be rolled up into the existing organization, executives there have repeatedly said. The firm plans to keep most of the United Capital structure the same. It will operate as a separate company, owned by a holding company of Creative Planning. That entity will be headquartered in Irving, Texas, and already has its own C-suite in place; Jim Rivers, region head of Personal Financial Management for the Americas West Coast region at Goldman Sachs, will be the CEO. Rob Mlenek has been appointed chief financial officer, and Marie Campion "chief people officer," according to published reports.

As of July 1, Creative Planning had over $245 billion in total assets.

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