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RIA Edge Roundup: $12.6B-Plus in Assets on the Move

In the second week of 2023, RIA M&A announcements abound with deals from Cerity Partners, Captrust and Mercer, among others.

Registered investment advisors announced several deals this week, picking up fresh capital and switching broker/dealers. Here's a look at more than $12.6 billion in client assets on the move as industry dealmakers remain undaunted by volatile markets.

Cerity Partners Completes $4.8B Merger With ARGI Financial

In its first M&A deal of 2023, Cerity Partners joined forces with ARGI Financial, a Louisville, Ky.–based registered investment advisor with 4.8 billion in client assets. The deal with ARGI Financial is one of the largest Cerity has made in its 24-year history.

Founded in 1995, ARGI provides financial planning and wealth management services to more than 3,000 individual investors, businesses, retirement plans and philanthropic institutions. The combined firm will operate as Cerity Partners, adding more than 250 professionals and expanding the firm’s workplace planning capabilities as well as its geographical footprint.

Cerity Partners CEO Kurt Miscinski expects the merger will accelerate the firm's work with businesses, according to the announcement. "We are excited to welcome our colleagues from ARGI Financial," he said. "Their breadth and depth of talent will accelerate our firm's growth and development."

"Although we considered several factors assessing this unique merger, we remained keenly focused on the importance of retaining objectivity in serving clients and providing growth opportunities for our colleagues,” said ARGI CEO Joe Reeves.

Founded in 2009, Cerity Partners now oversees more than $44.7 billion in assets across more than 5,700 clients in its wealth management unit and $13.2 billion across 165 retirement clients.

Lido Advisors to Partner With Colorado Financial Management

Lido Advisors, a wealth management firm for high-net-worth individuals, will partner with Colorado Financial Management, adding to Lido’s family office services and its presence in the Rocky Mountain region.

Founded in 1988, CFM provides financial planning and investment management services to some 840 clients. With offices in Denver, Boulder, and Loveland, Colo., the firm is considered one of Boulder’s oldest RIAs. The firm’s 26-person team will remain following the transaction, continuing to manage approximately $2 billion in assets primarily for high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions.

“We chose to partner with Lido because of the strong alignment between our firms,” said CFM Managing Partner Brad Bickham. “Like CFM, Lido has a client-centric approach that considers estate, tax, and investment management with care and transparency for every client.”

"We are not motivated to achieve scale for the sake of scale,” said Lido CEO Jason Ozur in a statement. “Instead, we seek firms that want to be true partners with a voice and the opportunity to be additive to Lido’s evolution. CFM’s growth-focused, tenured, and highly credentialed team is exactly that type of firm."

“We couldn’t have found a better partner to help Lido deepen its presence in the Mountain West,” added Lido President Ken Stern. “Managing the complexities of growing and protecting clients’ legacies is extremely challenging, requiring a team with skill, experience and passion.”

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Lido was established in 1999 by a group of family office advisors and now oversees more than $12 billion in client assets through 28 offices nationwide.

The transaction is expected to close this quarter, subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial terms were not disclosed.

$2.5B Patriot Financial Group Jumps to Cetera From Securities America

Cetera Financial Group announced this week that The Patriot Financial Group, a registered investment advisor managing more than $2.5 billion for clients, has affiliated with its brokerage platform Cetera Financial Specialists. Based in Westborough, Mass., the firm joins Cetera from Securities America with more than 70 advisors across five northeastern states, Nebraska and Florida.

"We are delighted to enter into this strategic business venture with an industry leader in Cetera, which has proven resources and expertise to support and elevate our market penetration and position," said TPFG Chair David M. O'Donnell, who founded the firm 18 years ago. "With access to leading solutions on our RIA platform and Cetera as our new broker-dealer platform, our reps are well equipped to best serve their clients with best-in-class resources, tools and support."

"Like Cetera, we are agnostic about how our advisors affiliate their business to deliver the best service, solutions and guidance,” added TPFG CEO Mike Tashjian. “We believe that this model provides a powerful combination of options that will serve our advisors and their clients well for years to come."

"We are confident that by pairing Cetera's resources with the Cetera Financial Specialists culture and community, the Patriot team will be positioned well to elevate their business to achieve their long-term goals while best serving their clients,” said CFS President Ron Krueger.

The affiliation with TPFG rounds out a record year of recruiting and business development for Cetera. The firm brought in $6.3 billion in assets during the third quarter alone, according to the company.

As of the end of 2022, Cetera advisors oversee around $322 billion in assets under administration and $115 billion in assets under management.

Captrust Adds $2.3B in Assets With TrustCore Financial Acquisition

Captrust Financial Advisors announced the acquisition of TrustCore Financial Services, a registered investment advisory firm based in Nashville, Tenn., with $2.3 billion in client assets.

TrustCore CEO Gary Dean and a team of 48 employees, including 16 financial advisors, serve some 2,100 clients, among them 600 high-net-worth families, along with 16 charitable organizations and one business at the end of last year, according to its latest Form ADV. Three quarters of those live in the mid-Tennessee region, according to the announcement.

Per the firm’s integration model, TrustCore will adopt Captrust's branding. The deal, which closed late last year, represents Captrust’s 63rd acquisition since 2006 and its second office in Nashville following the 2021 acquisition of New Market Wealth Management.

“Joining Captrust takes our business to the next level,” Dean said in a statement. “We look forward to tapping into the valuable resources the firm has to offer to make our clients’ experience even better.”

“The combination with Captrust creates a powerful presence in a great market,” said Republic Capital Group Managing Director John Langston, whose industry-focused investment bank represented TrustCore through the transaction. He described TrustCore as “one of the finest” partner-led firms in the region.

“Gary and his team bring decades of industry experience,” said Rush Benton, who heads up strategic growth for Captrust. “[W]e look forward to growing our business in the Nashville area through their expertise in both individual wealth management and services for nonprofits.”

Based in Raleigh, N.C., Captrust was founded in 1997 and currently claims more than 1,200 employees across 70 locations nationwide. As of a September 2022 filing, the firm manages more than $100 billion in assets and advises on $750 billion more.

Destiny Wealth Partners Buys Nichols Wealth in Boca Raton

Destiny Wealth Partners, a registered investment advisor near Orlando, Fla. with approximately $1 billion in client assets, announced the acquisition of Nichols Wealth Partners, a Boca Raton, Fla.–based RIA led by founder Chris Nichols.

Nichols Wealth will operate as an independent firm alongside Destiny Wealth Partners and sister firms Ruggie Asset Management and Destiny Family Office in Central Florida and KCG Investment Advisory Services in Savannah, Ga. Nichols will continue to lead the firm.

"Investors are demanding more and more from advisors,” Nichols said in a statement. “The Destiny Wealth Partners team recognized this shift taking place and has made some extraordinary leaps to prepare for the future growth of their firm. I know my clients will see the immediate effects of our partnership by having increased access to a broad sphere of investments including alternative investments for accredited investors and direct investments and co-investments for our qualified purchasers."

"Over the past two decades, Chris has earned a reputation as a caring, hardworking, passionate advisor who wants to see people win,” said Destiny founder Thomas Ruggie. “He recognized the growth/balance/time constraint many advisors face as they build their businesses and found that joining Destiny Wealth Partners was a solution that allows him to do even more for his firm, his clients and others."

Financial Partners Capital Management to Join Focus Partner GYL Financial

Focus Financial Partners announced this week that partner firm GYL Financial Synergies, based in West Hartford, Conn., has agreed to buy Financial Partners Capital Management, a New York City–based registered investment advisor with more than $700 million in client assets (as of March 2022).

Founded in 1988, FPCM is led by the three partners—Aaron Cohen, Vincent Marsden and Craig Giventer—with a team of financial advisors and client support service professionals. The firm provides financial planning and investment management services to high-net-worth individuals and families.

"This transaction will provide us with additional resources, allowing us to continue focusing on providing our clients with excellent service," said Cohen, FPCM president. "Leveraging GYL's impressive infrastructure will enable us to expand our service model and enhance our client experience even further."

The deal will enable GYL to establish a presence in the New York City wealth management market, according to the announcement. Once it has closed in the first quarter of this year, the firm's institutional and private client services in West Hartford and Westport, Conn., Parsippany, N.J., and New York City will move forward together under the GYL brand.

“Their service philosophy complements ours and their talented team will bring additional expertise to GYL, especially to our investment advisory services,” GYL CEO Gerry Goldberg said of the incoming team. “We look forward to expanding our presence into the New York City market."

First registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2016, GYL currently has more than 50 employees overseeing $5 billion in client assets for fewer than 1,800 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families in 38 states.

Mercer Global Advisors Buys $250M Empyrion Wealth Management

Mercer Global Advisors announced the acquisition of Empyrion Wealth Management this week, adding another California location and its 15th women-owned practice.

Located near Bakersfield in Rosedale, Calif., Empyrion was founded in 2002 by President Kimberly Foss and has a focus on serving women going through transitions, like a divorce, death of a spouse or balancing family care with careers. Foss and her team serve 90 clients with approximately $250 million in assets under management.

“[W]e wanted to join a leading national RIA to add more scale and leverage capabilities to our team and clients,” Foss said in a statement, noting that she had longstanding awareness of Mercer though the firms’ shared relationship with Dimensional Fund Advisors and a personal relationship with Dave Barton, who heads up M&A for Mercer. “Their comprehensive ‘family office’ approach to client care with in-house services like estate planning, tax consultation and tax return preparation, etc., adds the depth and breadth of service I was looking for and allows me to offload burdensome back-office work so that I can focus on what is most important—my clients.”

Foss, who is the author of Wealthy by Design: A 5-Step Plan for Financial Security, has shared her expertise on numerous media outlets such as CNBC, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.

“Kimberly is an exceptional financial planner, speaker, author, a real renaissance woman, and her skill set is highly distinct and valuable,” said Barton. “We are proud to add Kimberly’s voice to our team and help share our message of financial freedom across multiple media platforms.”

Founded in 1985, Denver-based Mercer has now added more than 70 firms to its rapidly growing platform, supported by majority investments from private equity firms Oak Hill Capital, in 2019, and Genstar Capital, in 2015. The firm currently oversees more than $46 billion in client assets, with more than 870 employees and 90 offices nationwide.

Snowden Lane Partners Secures $100M Credit Facility

Snowden Lane Partners, a boutique, hybrid wealth management firm based in New York City, has secured a new $100 million credit facility in partnership with private equity backer Estancia Capital Partners.

The new credit line replaces one with ORIX Corporation first in 2018, and expanded in 2022. The available credit will enable Snowden Lane to “significantly bolster its recruiting momentum and position itself for sustained growth through 2023 and beyond,” according to an announcement Monday.

“We’re excited to kick off the new year with this announcement, as this additional, nondilutive capital will allow us to execute our vision for the firm’s next stage of growth,” said Snowden CEO Rob Mooney. “We are extremely grateful for Estancia’s support. Estancia continues as a committed partner since the early days of our business and played a crucial role helping Snowden Lane realize its potential.”

“Estancia’s most important investment criteria is always partnering with companies who have experienced management teams capable of executing on their growth strategy and maximizing value,” said Estancia Managing Director Takashi Moriuchi. “Snowden Lane and its executive team is a prime example of why this is so important. Under the management team’s leadership, the firm rapidly become a key player in the independent wealth management space and is an attractive destination for advisors seeking a full-service alternative to the wirehouses.

Founded in 2011 and led by Mooney, COO Greg Franks and Chairman of the Board of Managers Lyle LaMothe, Snowden Lane is a multicustodian, open-architecture registered investment advisor and broker/dealer providing wealth advisory services to high net-worth individuals, families and institutional clients. The firm has brought on advisors from Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan, Raymond James and Wells Fargo, among others, according to the firm.

In the past two years alone, Snowden Lane added 23 new advisors with a collective $4 billion in client assets. Today, the firm has more than 70 financial advisors overseeing approximately $9 billion through 12 offices around the country in San Diego and Pasadena, Calif.; New Haven, Conn.; Coral Gables, Fla; Chicago; Pittsburgh; Baltimore, Salisbury and Bethesda, Md.; San Antonio; Buffalo, N.Y., as well as its New York City headquarters.

Apogem Capital served as administrative agent in connection with the new facility, while Apogem and Monroe Capital both served as joint lead arrangers and joint bookrunners, according to the announcement.

Wealthcare Acquires Sommers Financial Management

The acquisition of Sommers Financial Management in Tucson, Ariz., and Scappoose, Ore., is the third Wealthcare has completed in its 24-year history and adds $100 million to the firm’s nascent acquisitive model. Read here for more on this acquisition and Wealthcare’s growth strategy.

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