Integrated Partners, a Waltham, Mass.-based wealth advisory firm dually registered under the name Integrated Wealth Concepts, announced the first acquisition in its 27-year history.
The addition of Laurel Wealth Advisors, a hybrid RIA with 34 advisors and $2.25 billion in client assets based north of San Diego, brings Integrated to more than 200 employees and around $15 billion in total client assets. It’s part of a recent “pivot” toward expanding the firm’s avenues of growth, Integrated Chief Growth Officer Rob Sandrew said in January.
“We decided we wanted to play more broadly,” he explained.
Adding to a longstanding affiliation model, Integrated introduced a new W-2 employee option last summer, and also began acquiring portions of affiliated firms’ revenue, in addition to launching a dedicated family office practice for its highest-net-worth clients. The firm indicated around the same time that it was exploring potential acquisitions—but did not rush into the first deal.
“There's a massive land grab going on right now,” Sandrew said. “It makes sense for some firms, but that's not us. We want to be extremely deliberate in our approach and be sure that everything lines up. We do very well when we spend the time kicking the tires.”
Noting that Laurel founders Lee Tripodi and Mark Welsh both worked on Wall Street before launching the firm in 2011, Sandrew said there were “a lot of reasons” the deal with Laurel “just lined up,” including similar backgrounds, organizational structures and planning-centric philosophies.
Laurel’s success recruiting wirehouse breakaways was attractive to Integrated, he said. And Integrated’s CPA Alliance, which connects advisors with more than 160 tax practices in need of a wealth management platform, was especially appealing to Laurel's principals, as was an Integrated program established in 2019 aimed at guiding clients through the sale of their businesses.
Laurel was "looking to grow; they're planning-focused. Their advisors were either working with higher-end clients already or wanted to go there,” said Sandrew. “And the footprint is an area that we're very focused on—California. So, it was a win-win.”
Laurel comprises several affiliated practices in Southern California and was looking for business efficiencies that would help them scale, the company said. Affiliates are retaining individual branding while moving under Integrated’s SEC registration and benefiting from access to Integrated’s suite of technology, investment management, estate and succession planning, marketing and practice management resources.
“We were determined to identify a firm that would value our ethos and entrepreneurial spirit,” Tripodi said in a statement. “It quickly became clear that Integrated’s significant track record of accelerating advisors’ organic growth would provide an immediate lift, while enabling us to preserve the special culture we have built here at Laurel.”
“A lot of the advisors that have joined us have built their businesses and are very entrepreneurial-driven,” said Sandrew. “And they’re very proud of that. We want to empower that, embrace that and help them get to where they want to go.”
Launched in 1996 by CEO Paul Saganey, Integrated went independent in 2016 after 12 years with Lincoln Financial to take advantage of state legislation that enabled accounting firms to be licensed as financial advisors, opening the door for Saganey to provide a wealth management affiliation model for accounting firms. At the time, the firm had around 100 employees and $3 billion in assets. Seven years later, Integrated has doubled staff, quintupled assets and is now targeting acquisitions with between $200 million and $4 billion in client assets under the new M&A initiative. Sandrew said he is also interested in building out legal estate planning and insurance partnerships alongside its tax practice platform.
The firm is focused on providing more advanced planning services to clients expected to inherit vast amounts of wealth, he said, declining to pinpoint an ideal number of advisors or assets the firm hopes to reach over the coming decade while acknowledging “some internal goals.”
“We’re not going to say we have a $20 billion target for the next two years to go after M&A because that puts pressure on us and could make us lose focus on what’s important,” Sandrew explained, adding that Integrated “will be extremely deliberate in our approach, whether it's affiliation, M&A or revenue participation.”
“Sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make,” he said, borrowing a quote from MarketCounsel CEO Brian Hamburger. “There has been a lot of interest and we could probably do a deal a month. ... But, at the end of the day, there’s good growth and there’s bad growth.”
Citing a book Saganey recently published in collaboration with Russ Alan Prince and Homer Smith, Sandrew said the firm’s overall strategy is “really about going up-market and doing some of that more heavy, advanced planning because we think there’s a significant amount of generational wealth transfer, which is happening right now, that is going to be unprecedented.”