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starksgroup.jpg Images via Starks Financial Group
Dawn Starks, left, and Jennifer Adams

Mercer Acquires $250M Starks Financial Group

Mercer onboards its 10th women-led advisory firm and its first in North Carolina.

Mercer Global Advisors, one of the largest and fastest growing registered investment advisors in the nation, announced its 11th acquisition of the year with the addition of Starks Financial Group, located in Asheville, N.C.

Founded in 1999 by Dawn Starks, the RIA brings approximately $250 million in assets under management to Mercer, as well as experience with SRI, ESG, impact and thematic investing for retirees, women and same-sex couples. The firm is affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services, its independent broker/dealer. 

“My partner Jennifer Adams ... and I are proud of the comprehensive wealth management firm we have built,” Starks said in a statement. “As a women-owned and operated firm, we understand the unique challenges facing women. As a result, we have built a practice that not only serves the interests of women, but those of same sex partners, along with others seeking our brand of deep financial planning.”

Starks and Adams began seeking out a partnership to solve for succession and learned of Mercer through peer firms it had already acquired. “We loved their family office services and the fact that Mercer Advisors would take over time-consuming back-office work,” said Starks. “But what really impressed us was their investment and attention to many women’s advancement initiatives, including their 'InvestHers' platform supporting women’s groups across the organization and beyond.”

The Starks team will join nine other women-led firms at Mercer, and a stable of advisors that is more than 50% women.

“Dawn and Jennifer are doing pioneering work building and supporting the advancement of financial independence for women and are exactly the quality of financial planners we are seeking to add to our team,” said David Barton, who led the transaction on behalf of Mercer. “As a service business, you are only as good as your people, and our industry is talent starved. In Starks, we are adding highly qualified new team members, which is a primary aim of our M&A strategy—adding needed talent to support our growth.”

Mercer has added 63 firms since it was founded in 1985. Majority investments by both Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital have allowed the Denver-based firm to significantly ramp up mergers and acquisitions activity in recent years, and 10 new additions were announced in the first half of 2022 alone. Mercer is now among the largest RIAs in the nation, claiming more than $38 billion in client assets.

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