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RIA Roundup: Aptus Capital Buys LibertyFi

RIA Roundup: Aptus Capital Buys LibertyFi

Also this week, DSJ has created a new RIA, Buckingham picked up a Detroit firm, Atria poached an Osaic team with $420 million, and St. Louis-based Krilogy announced three acquisitions in 2023.

Aptus Capital Advisors has joined forces with LibertyFi to create a $20 billion platform providing outsourced technology, operations and asset management services for registered investment advisors.

DSJ, a New York accounting firm, also announced the creation of a new RIA to better serve clients, while Buckingham Strategic Wealth picked up more than a quarter billion in assets with a Detroit acquisition, and Atria poached an Osaic team with $420 million. St. Louis-based Krilogy announced three acquisitions in 2023, as the firm moves closer to its goal of $5 billion in assets by 2026.

In other RIA news reported this week, Rockefeller captured a $5 billion Merrill Lynch team, MAI added more than $500 million in its 3rd deal of 2024, the AmeriFlex Group snapped up a team of seven from Commonwealth and Private Advisor Group snagged a trio from the recently rebranded Axtella.

Summit attracted a team of five to its equity partnership platform; Merrill lost six to Dynasty-supported independence; Captrust picked up nine in Houston; and Karl Heckenberg’s new RIA investment vehicle unveiled its second and third portfolio firms—Perigon Wealth Management and Lido Advisors.

Also this week, Echelon Partners reported that M&A activity in the RIA space dropped in 2023 for the first time in 12 years, a trend that seems to have reversed in the second half of the year and into 2024.

Aptus Capital Advisors Buys LibertyFi

Aptus Capital Advisors, an asset management-focused RIA and outsourced CIO serving individuals, small businesses, trusts, estates and RIAs with about $4.25 billion under management, has acquired technology platform and back-office services provider LibertyFi.

According to an announcement Thursday, the combined firm represents more than $20 billion in brokerage and advisory assets and will offer a new turnkey option to advisors seeking customized technology, investment management and operations support. A menu of “a la carte” services will also be made available for integration into existing tech stacks.

Both companies are based in Alabama. In Birmingham, LibertyFi was serving more than 30 firms with 178 advisors overseeing almost $15 billion in assets; the company reported that clients saw an average organic growth rate of 18% in 2022—or nearly five times the industry average. Aptus, on the Gulf Coast in Fairhope, has grown reportable assets by about 3,400% since 2018.

New York Accounting Firm DSJ Introduces RIA

DSJ, an accounting firm serving the tri-state area from Long Island and Manhattan offices, has launched an affiliated RIA in collaboration with Buffalo-based Nottingham Advisors.

Led by Managing Partner Bob Jahelka, along with his son and COO Stephen Jahelka, DSJ registered DSJ Wealth Management with the SEC in fall 2022 and then spent the next year searching for a suitable partner to handle asset management.

“We were extremely deliberate in selecting an RIA who shared our client centric philosophy committed to tax efficient investing strategies with a longer-term horizon,” said Stephen Jahelka, in a statement.

They also wanted to enter the market in the first weeks of the year, he noted, when “it’s common for individuals to reevaluate their finances and take proactive steps to manage their financial future.”

“We wanted to be sure we were part of that conversation,” he said.  

The partnership with Nottingham, which oversees about $4 billion in assets, allowed DSJ to launch with a smaller staff—currently just two advisors—and outsource parts of the process. Going forward, Nottingham will design customized portfolios for DSJ clients while the RIA’s advisors focus on financial planning and tax management.

Established in 1972, DSJ includes the CPA and an advisory business that offers outsourced CFO and multi-family office services, succession planning, legal support, M&A advice and now, a broader range of integrated wealth management services.

Buckingham Buys Michigan Affiliate

St. Louis-based Buckingham Strategic Wealth is acquiring an affiliated practice in the greater Detroit area.

Wasserman Wealth Management, a five-person team led by Brad Wasserman, has leveraged the Buckingham Strategic Partners platform since launching in 2003 and will officially become a part of the Focus Financial partner when the deal closes later this quarter. At the time of its last federal filing, in late March, Wasserman was managing $267.4 million for a little more than 175 clients.

“Making the move to join Buckingham was the logical, natural step in the evolution of our firm,” Wasserman said in a statement.

Buckingham is among the largest firms in the Focus Financial Partners network, reporting some $24.3 billion in managed assets on each of its ADVs. It is expected to be one of a few left standing after Focus’ new owners consolidate the network into a handful of its largest partners.

Atria Pulls $420M Paragon Financial from Osaic

Atria Wealth Solutions, a Lee Equity Partners–backed family of wealth management firms based in New York City, has attracted a team of 11 in Arizona from Osaic.

With $420 million in assets, Paragon Financial Group is led by founder Frank Brown and is joining Atria’s hybrid RIA and broker/dealer, Cadaret Grant, in a bid to access better technology, expedite growth and “be part of a culture that cares,” according to an announcement.

Launched in 2017 by former Morgan Stanley executive Doug Ketterer, Atria owns several subsidiaries providing brokerage and RIA services, including Cadaret Grant, NEXT Financial Group, Western International Securities, SCF Securities, CUSO Financial Services and Sorrento Pacific Financial. In September, it completed its acquisition of Kestra subsidiary Grove Point Financial.

The firm reports around $120 billion in assets across 1,700 financial professionals.

Local Trio Joins $2B RIA Krilogy  

Krilogy, a St. Louis-based RIA founded in 2009 and managing about $2 billion for almost 2,000 clients, onboarded three new teams and added more than $300 million in recruited assets in 2023.

The latest to join was an all-female trio in the St. Louis area previously with Six Point Financial, which has ceased operations. Led by former Six Point partner Karen Maurer, who has stepped into the roles of partner and senior wealth manager at Krilogy, the team includes Paraplanner Cindy Stewart and Wealth Services Manager Lily Morley-Park.

Created by President and CEO Kent Skornia, Krilogy is focused on developing young advisors and providing holistic wealth management through in-house financial planning, asset management, tax and legal teams. The firm has grown assets from $20 million when it launched in 2009 to $2 billion today.

Krilogy has grown organically and through several acquisitions since 2016. With a focus on Texas and “a couple” letters of intent signed in different regional markets, Skornia said he expects to reach $5 billion in assets by early 2026.

“Nice, consistent growth,” he said. “We're not trying to do 10 to 12 deals a year; we grow organically by $400-$500 million a year anyway, so picking up another $400-$500 million in acquisition and recruiting is not too intimidating for us. We've been doing that pretty consistently.”

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