About 18 months after bringing on former Conde Nast executive Gary Foodim as its chief marketing officer, Mercer Advisors, a rapidly growing “integrator” of registered investment advisors, has rebranded to reflect the firm’s evolution since 2017, when its previous branding was developed.
The firm has grown from about $12 billion in assets under management and 8,000 clients in 2017 to some $46 billion in AUM and 27,500 clients today. And many would say the firm now has national reach, with over 90 locations across the country and over 240 client-facing advisors.
The new branding reflects that identity as a national RIA, Foodim said, as well as the firm’s comprehensive and integrated approach to wealth management, an offering that now encompasses financial planning, investment management, tax planning and filing, estate planning, trusts and insurance services. The firm has taken both a build and a buy approach to rounding out those services.
“We also now provide a more robust service model that provides comprehensive planning and execution of the plan so clients can get on with their lives,” said Dave Welling, CEO of Mercer Advisors, in a statement. “As a result, it is time for us to communicate better who we are, what we stand for, and why we are different from many of the advisors out there.”
While the rebranding does not include a new name and logo, it does involve new brand guidelines, images, more modern messaging and new colors. For instance, the firm’s colors now represent warmth, wisdom, renewal, strength, kindness and health. “Those are principles and attributes that reflect on what we do,” Foodim said.
One of the colors is iris, a combination of purple, which represents wisdom and enlightenment, and lavender, which represents femininity and grace, a nod to the fact that 50% of Mercer’s client-facing advisors are female.
The firm has also been more intentional about the images it uses on its website, which are focused primarily on clients. While many RIA websites focus on the advisors themselves, Foodim said the firm wanted its audience to see themselves in the images.
“So much of it is advisor-focused, and, sure, you can’t undersell the importance of a good advisor,” he said. “But I’m just of the belief that people want to see themselves in these images. They don’t necessarily want to see an image of somebody looking at a computer, wondering if that’s a portfolio, wondering if that’s a spreadsheet. They want to see emotion, and they want to see connection, and they want to see sincerity. And our images will reflect that.”
The firm chose Bandujo, a New York-based design firm, to lead the rebranding effort.
The messaging centers around the idea of “connecting the dots” across all aspects of a client’s financial life, and helping clients find meaning in their money.
“Our wealth advisors bring together an in-house, national team with specialized expertise across financial planning, investments, tax strategies, estate planning, corporate trusts, insurance and more,” the new website reads.
“Clearly our work has a deep and meaningful impact on our clients’ lives. We help them achieve their goals and dreams,” Foodim said. “And as someone who is relatively new to this industry, I sense that our brand messaging and our imaging didn’t really reflect how we’re different and, most importantly, why we do what we do and what the outcome of that is, which is really helping people.”
Among the advisor community, Mercer is known as a fast-growing and acquisitive firm, said Brandon Kawal, principal at Advisor Growth Strategies. The firm has been on an aggressive acquisition tear over the past several years.
“The early perception of Mercer was emerging family office to the masses type of structure,” Kawal said. “They weren’t alone there. Today, they’re viewed as one of the large players in the space—the national RIA with robust capabilities that’s going to do 10-plus deals a year.”
But the firm’s brand awareness is not simply on the acquisition side.
“From a strategic perspective, having experienced their story, Mercer does a really good job coming at it from a planning-centric approach, financial planning that is, with a lot of value-added services around tax, estate planning, the trustee services they can provide,” Kawal said.
“They have these wide-ranging services, and then what M&A does for them is allows them to deepen the bench around it.”
Kawal said Mercer is also part of a recent trend of firms that are able to acquire and reach advisors outside of the RIA vertical.
“Mercer and other firms like them are getting to the size and magnitude—and they’ve built so much capability—that they can go across models. They can do deals with advisors out of the independent broker/dealer space, they can go to the banks and the trusts,” he said. “In my mind it could add to these firms and their frankly very impressive growth rates.”