Litman Gregory Wealth Management, a $2 billion AUM registered investment advisory firm with three offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, has announced its second RIA acquisition since it was fully acquired by iM Global Partner in June 2021.
Litman Gregory purchased the private client business of Wedgewood Partners in St. Louis, Mo., a large cap securities manager providing third-party investment management and corporate sub-advisor services for affluent individuals, institutions and investment companies. The acquisition brings to Litman Gregory $275 million in SEC-registered assets and a team of three, led by Wedgewood founder Tony Guerrerio.
Litman Gregory CEO Jeff Seeley said the move is part of a larger strategy to expand beyond the West Coast and establish the RIA as a national wealth management firm.
“We’re not going to be a serial acquirer,” he said. “We’re being very selective, patient and very methodical in terms of the way we're building the business and attracting advisors that align with our focus long-term. Our thought is we want to build a nationwide wealth boutique by focusing on acquiring RIA firms that, one, are geographically located throughout the United States and, two, have businesses where they want to benefit from the synergies of a larger entity.”
It took 18 months of discussions and negotiation to complete the Wedgewood deal, Seeley said. While the firm is in conversations with other potential acquisition targets around the country, he said not to expect rapid-fire announcements or even necessarily one a year.
“We obviously wanted to be in the Midwest, and so we’re super excited that Wedgewood will be our cornerstone in St. Louis,” he said.
Litman Gregory is also open to welcoming culturally aligned solo practitioners and breakaway advisors.
“An advisor who wants to be part of a national wealth boutique, and the independence that comes with that, could join Litman Gregory anywhere in the country,” Seeley said.
Seeley—who is also deputy CEO of parent company iM Global Partner, a Paris-based network of investment managers across Europe and the United States with about $37 billion in assets, and CEO of iM Global Partner Fund Management, iM’s subsidiary U.S. asset management division—was brought in to build out both sides of the U.S. business in 2018. That included making minority investments in U.S. asset managers and developing a platform offering ETFs and mutual funds across a network of nine partners, while creating a separate and distinct wealth management platform.
The acquisition of Litman Gregory, which happened concurrently with the retirement of founder Ken Gregory and CEO Steve Savage stepping into a strategic advisor role at the firm, ultimately established the foundation for iM’s U.S. wealth management business. Its first acquisition, lifted out of a CPA firm in Northern California, was completed in December 2021.
Acquired firms are being brought in as W-2 employees and are expected to adopt Litman Gregory branding and utilize the firm’s Tamarac-based technology platform, but Seeley said advisors are under no pressure to sell iM products or change service models that are working. Advisors can choose to use any custody provider and leverage a variety of in-house capabilities around things like taxes and estate planning.
The Litman Gregory team comprises 28 professionals, including seven advisors, providing portfolio management and goals-based financial planning, as well as tax, legacy and philanthropic services, for around 400 individuals and families, 16 philanthropic organizations, seven corporations and a handful of retirement plans.