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RIA Mid-Week Roundup: Marrella Private Wealth Launches as Independent RIA

A family practice leaves Raymond James to launch an independent RIA, Edelman Financial Engines picks up a $225M firm in its first deal of the year and six other announcements this week.

Dealmaking got off to a strong start in the RIA space this week with no less than six firms announcing new additions and one breaking away from Raymond James to run an independent, fiduciary practice.

With plans to offer clients access to a virtual family office platform, family-owned Marrella Private Wealth relaunched with a new name and dropped brokerage licenses in its move from Raymond James this week.

Meanwhile, Edelman Financial Engines acquired a five-person team managing around $225 million in its first deal of the year, Waverly Advisors moved into Mississippi with its acquisition of $700 million AUM Soundpath Investment Advisors, Roberston Stephens added a former lifeguard in the Bay Area, and Savvy snagged a pair of Philadelphia area recruits from Veritable, LP and Empower.

In earlier reported news, Coldstream Wealth combined with a pair of Seattle firms to bring tax services in-house, Sigma Financial rebranded as Axtella, Creative Planning added another billion in AUM with Kistler-Tiffany acquisition. Sanctuary also added a new regional managing director amid flatlined asset growth and executive upheaval.

Marrella Private Wealth Launches as Independent RIA, Creates VFO

Marrella Financial Group in Wyomissing, Penn., officially rebranded as Marrella Private Wealth after leaving Raymond James Financial Services and shedding brokerage licenses to create an independent registered investment advisory firm.

Created in 2001, Marrella is led by brothers and Managing Directors Samuel Marrella Sr. and Paul Marrella, along with wealth advisors Daneen Weaver (Paul’s daughter), Sam Marrella Jr., and a staff of three. 

“We are excited to now take our brand to the next level by fully embracing the benefits of independence, delivering a full spectrum of services and solutions, and fulfilling our role as fiduciaries to protect the best interests of clients for today and tomorrow,” Marrella Sr. said in a statement.

“As an independent firm, we can go beyond traditional planning to be true advocates and coaches,” added Paul Marrella.

Marrella is introducing a virtual family office service, available to all clients, offering personalized wealth management and investments through a “fully integrated” platform supported by a team of human advisors.

“Unlike typical family office structures available to only ultra-high-net-worth families, the Marrella VFO is available to all clients,” said Paul Marrella. “That allows us to operate as a client’s personal CFO—helping to navigate their financial journey from a 360-degree perspective and integrating investment, tax, and lifestyle considerations.”

Edelman Financial Acquires Align Wealth Management in 1st 2023 Deal

Edelman Financial Engines, a $250 billion RIA created in 2018 through the merger of Edelman Financial Services and Financial Engines, acquired Align Wealth Management in its first deal of the year.

With headquarters in Oklahoma City and an additional office in St. Petersburg, Fla., the five-person team manages about $225 million for almost 360 clients. 

“Their approach to holistic wealth management fits well with our broad suite of capabilities and commitment to serving clients who can benefit from advanced services, including retirement, tax and estate planning support,” Edelman EVP, CFO and COO Suzanne van Staveren said in a statement.

“Joining Edelman Financial Engines will allow our planners to spend more time delivering high-touch services to clients while getting greater support with administrative and time-consuming back-office tasks,” said Align co-founder Brian Puckett.

After completing three acquisitions in 2022—Erman Retirement AdvisoryHerrmann & Cooke and Smart Investor—Edelman slowed M&A activity through the first half of 2023 but said Tuesday it remains a key area of strategic growth and the firm expects activity to increase through the beginning of next year.

“EFE has become an attractive strategic acquirer in the RIA space,” said Dan Seivert, CEO of Echelon Partners, which served as transaction advisor to Align. “The acquisition of a high caliber firm like Align represents a great outcome for both firms and their clients.”

Waverly Advisors Acquires SoundPath Investment Advisors

Waverly Advisors has added its 11th office in the nation’s Southeast with the acquisition of a Mississippi firm managing more than $700 million in client assets.

Soundpath Investment Advisors, in Jackson, Miss., was founded in 1988 as Medley & Brown. Advisors Eddie Carlisle, Julius Ridgway and Doug Muenzenmay bought the firm in 2020 and rebranded in 2022. All three will become partners at Waverly, with Ridgway and Muenzenmay serving as regional managing directors.

Based in Birmingham, Ala., Waverly manages some $7.2 billion in assets across more than 90 team members in five states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Mississippi following the close of the deal in late September.

The acquisition of Soundpath is Waverly’s eighth after selling an equity stake to Wealth Partners Capital Group and HGGC’s Aspire Holdings platform in late 2021 to support an accelerated acquisition strategy. In 2023, Waverly has acquired four firms—Omni Wealth in Atlanta and Tampa, Silicon Hills Wealth Management in Austin, and Gwynn Management Company in Atlanta—adding about $1.3 billion in total AUM.

Robertson Stephens Adds Bay Area Advisor, $100M in Assets

Robertson Stephens Wealth Management has added a Bay Area advisor with some $100 million in managed assets and an average account size of around $2 million.

Joe Delaney, who founded Lifeguard Wealth in 2012, is joining Robertson Stephens as a managing director and principal. He will work alongside two advisors in the firm’s Market Street office near San Francisco Bay.  

A former ocean lifeguard, Delaney has worked as an accountant, CFO, real estate portfolio manager, wealth advisor and business owner over the last four decades, including positions at KPMG, Lendlease and Equius Partners. He has also served as group leader for a San Francisco-based chapter of the advisory networking organization ProVisors.

Robertson Stephens now oversees approximately $4.6 billion in client assets across 19 teams comprising 81 total employees across 17 locations—including six in California, two in Idaho, Texas and New Jersey, and one each in New York, Washington, Colorado and Massachusetts.

Savvy Recruits from Veritable, Empower

Savvy, a venture capital-backed New York City-based RIA with a proprietary tech stack and more than $100 million in client assets, added two new advisors to its growing stable of recruits.

Erich Yost and Ryan Bond, both based in the greater Philadelphia area, are joining Savvy to gain access to its technology platform, designed to help advisors build personalized financial plans, improve client service, and streamline marketing and back-office operations.

Yost comes to Savvy from Veritable, LP, where he was a portfolio manager and worked on a team managing $2.5 billion in assets for ultra-wealthy individuals and families. As an independent advisor, he expects to use Savvy’s technology to help clients manage generational wealth and improve intra-family relationships.

“Leveraging the technological features of the Savvy Wealth platform introduces tangible benefits to the planning process for everyone involved,” he said in a statement. “I have been able to automate processes and streamline workflows in my new role, allowing me to focus on the big picture and build deeper relationships with my clients. They deserve a partner who isn't stuck in the weeds.”

Bond joins Savvy from Empower, where he worked as a senior financial advisor, overseeing 300 client relationships with more than $430 million in combined AUM. With a triple degree in financial planning, finance, and economics from the University of Delaware, Bond spent part of his early career as a Vanguard advisor.

“Being a young advisor with a future-forward mindset, Savvy felt like the right home for me,” he said. “Its all-in-one platform is poised to enhance my practice, offering proprietary solutions that allow me to unify every aspect of my clients’ financial lives and stay ahead of my their fast-evolving needs.”

The new advisor platform was introduced in July. In April, Savvy also rolled out a proprietary direct indexing solution that enables advisors to deliver tax-efficient, customized portfolios.

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