Skip navigation
Avantax Wealth Management

RIA Roundup: Avantax Adds Two Firms, $450M in Assets

In other RIA news, Wealthspire expanded into Denver, Hightower supported the acquisition of Trellis Advisors by partner firm Highland Private Wealth, and Apollon, Kestra PWS and Steward onboarded new advisors.

In RIA news this week, Avantax has added two firms, while Wealthspire expanded into Denver with a former bank advisor managing $60 million in assets and Hightower supported the acquisition of $470 million AUM Trellis Advisors by partner firm Highland Private Wealth, according to announcements.

Meanwhile, Apollon Wealth Management added an eight-person Chicagoland team managing around $270 million; Kestra Private Wealth Services onboarded a Silicon Valley firm with $124 million in client assets; and a duo managing $175 million has joined Steward Partners from Merrill Lynch.

Berthel Fisher also announced the recruitment of a dozen advisors and $165 million in AUM at the same time as the firm hired a new VP of business development, while Modern Wealth Management beefed up its M&A team with three new hires.

In earlier reported news, Creative Planning continued to strengthen its tax division with its latest acquisition, and David Canter is stepping down as president of Bluespring Wealth Partners.

Avantax Adds Two Firms, $450M in Assets

Avantax, a publicly traded, tax-focused wealth management firm with more than $83 billion in client assets, added two firms this week, totally approximately $450 million in brokerage and advisory assets.

Formerly Blucora, Avantax was rebranded earlier this year after selling its tax software business in December.

In the greater Minneapolis area, Summit Wealth Advocates’ founder Bruce Primeau and a team of six are joining the firm as W-2 employees, bringing with them approximately $330 million in assets. Primeau and two advisors will step into the role of financial planning consultants, while other staff members take on various roles at their new firm.

Founded in 2010, Summit had not previously been affiliated with Avantax, and the firm said the acquisition “reflects growing interest that external RIAs have in joining.”

“We create solutions for external RIAs and our independent Financial Professionals to fit whatever route they want to take, from opportunities to accelerate their growth to turnkey succession planning,” Avantax President of Wealth Management Todd Mackay said in a statement. “We have decades of experience working in an employee-based RIA model, especially serving large accounting firms looking for a proven planning and wealth management partner.”

“We are in growth mode, and I was looking for a partner who would give us the potential to grow faster by getting even deeper into client service,” Primeau said in a statement.

The team is already working with financial technology platform Pontera to analyze, rebalance, and report on 401(k) and other held-away assets.

In Scottsdale, Ariz., CFR Capital Group has joined Avantax, bringing a team of 20 and around $120 million in assets. CFR’s focus on tax management extends to its ownership of three active H&R Block franchises in Arizona (which will remain unaffiliated with Avantax).

The firm was most recently affiliated with Securities America, a broker/dealer being unified under parent company Osaic (formerly Advisor Group).

“Avantax’s tax focus and technology was key for us because we’re so diversified, doing tax returns and financial planning, we needed technology to give clients a true snapshot of everything going on in their financial lives,” said CFR founder and CEO Frank Calise, in a statement.

“Avantax’s transition team is the best I’ve seen in my 25 years in this business,” he added.

There were reports this summer that Avantax was considering a sale following the recommendations of a shareholder, but no such plans have been announced.

Wealthspire Advisors Expands into Denver with $60M Advisor

Wealthspire Advisors, a New York City-based RIA owned by national insurance brokerage NFP, has expanded into Denver with the addition of Amanda Phillips-DeSaverio.

Bringing with her 30 clients and around $60 million in managed assets, Phillips-DeSaverio will work alongside NFP colleagues in Denver’s University Hills neighborhood.

With more than 15 years of experience, Phillips-DeSaverio joins Wealthspire from The Corundum Group, a wealth management and estate planning firm owned by Central Bancorp, where she held the roles of wealth advisor and vice president. Prior to that, she was in the same roles at Sunflower Bank for more than four years, following more than eight with First Western Trust, where she was portfolio manager and vice president.

Wealthspire now has 21 offices in 12 states, with more than 175 advisors managing around $20 billion in assets.

Trellis Joins Hightower Partner Firm Highland Private Wealth

Chicago-based Hightower Advisors has facilitated a sub-acquisition on behalf of partner firm Highland Private Wealth Management in its 11th deal of the year.

Trellis Advisors in Ellensburg, Wash., an hour and a half southeast of Highland’s Seattle headquarters, adds a team of 15 led by founder Ray Gilmour and more than $470 million in managed assets­—bringing the combined firm to around $1.9 billion in assets.

The deal is the first acquisition completed by Highland since joining Hightower less than a year ago and was largely driven by a previous relationship and similar approaches between the two firms, as well as Trellis’ desire for scaled services provided through the Hightower platform.

Founded in 2008, Hightower comprises 135 advisory businesses in 35 states and Washington, D.C., with around $131 billion in AUM at the end of the last quarter.


Apollon Wealth Management Buys Piershale Financial Group

Apollon Wealth Management, a Charleston, S.C.-based RIA with more than $3 billion in managed assets, has added Piershale Financial Group to its growing network of subsidiaries.

The eight-person, Chicago area team is led by President Mike Piershale and provides retirement, estate and tax planning, as well as portfolio management, for around 435 clients with $270 million in managed assets.

Doing business as Piershale Financial Group of Apollon, Piershale will gain access to the RIA’s technology, service solutions and a broader menu of investment opportunities.  

Kestra PWS Adds $124M Thriving Asset Management

Kestra Private Wealth Services, an Austin-based RIA subsidiary of Kestra Financial, has added Thriving Asset Management to its platform.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Thriving is led by founder, CEO and Senior Portfolio Manager David Maigret. With more than $124 million in client assets, Maigret provides asset management and financial planning, with a focus on life milestones such as liquidity events, retirement, and estate planning. He is joined by Senior Sales Associate Robert Solis and his wife, Senior Operations Manager Erika Maigret.

After spending two decades building his book of business with Wells Fargo, Maigret decided to launch his own practice with Kestra PWS due to the platform’s national presence and flexible model, according to an announcement.

“In my previous role, I was unable to benefit from the latest wealth management technologies,” Maigret said in a statement. “Now, as an independent investment advisor, I can leverage cutting-edge tech from nearby Silicon Valley as well as Kestra PWS to give my clients a sense of assurance, calmness, and stability about their portfolios.”

Launched in 2010 by wirehouse breakaways looking to replicate the breadth of wirehouse services in an independent setting, Kestra PWS has provided support to more than 40 firms in 17 states. The Kestra PWS platform oversees nearly $4.5 billion in assets across more than 8,000 clients, according to a Form ADV filed last month.

Merrill Lynch Team Jumps to Steward Partners

Last Friday, Steward Partners announced that Latimer Wealth Management has joined its growing network of firms from Merrill Lynch, bringing $175 million in assets and establishing a second Florida location in Winter Park.

Comprising partner and Managing Director Ted Latimer and Client Relationship Manager Denise Hoffman, Latimer offers trust and estate planning services, risk management, wealth management and retirement planning and business planning solutions for wealthy individuals, families and business owners.

"We have tremendous growth plans in Florida," said Jeffrey Gonyo, managing director, senior divisional president, Southeast at Steward Partners, in a statement. "Ted has an exceptional wealth management practice. We're thrilled for him to have the ability to grow with our partnership and for the additional tools and benefits he will be able to bring to his clients." 

"What attracted me to Steward Partners was the collaborative and inclusive culture of partnership, where everyone is a shareholder and sings from the same sheet of music," added Latimer. "The wide array of investment and planning options that are now available to our team allows us to customize even more solutions for our clients and plan for their successful futures." 

Since launching a decade ago with around $50 million in assets, the Steward platform has grown to oversee around $30 billion in assets with 44 office locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Berthel Fisher Recruits $165M, Names New Vice President of Business Development

Iowa-based Berthel Fisher, an independent broker/dealer, announced the recruitment of around a dozen advisors and $165 million in assets in recent months.

Most recently, Berthel Fisher added MP Butterworth & Associates in Reading, Penn., with about $85 million in assets and a focus on serving special needs families. Led by Mike Butterworth, the firm was previously affiliated with SagePoint Financial, which will be transitioning to Osaic. His son Christopher Butterworth joined the practice in 2012.

Other recruits have joined existing Berthel Fisher branch offices, including Freedom Financial Group in North Dakota and 1st and Main Investment Advisors in Colorado.

At the same time, Nate Spencer has been named the firm’s new vice president of business development, charged with recruiting, developing acquisition strategies and supporting organic growth among the firm’s existing partners. He joins from Allworth Financial, where he spent about a year in the firm’s mergers and acquisitions unit. He will report to Senior Vice President of Business Development Paige Swartzendruber.  

Modern Wealth Management Appoints Three to M&A Team

Modern Wealth Management, an RIA launched early this year by former United Capital/Goldman Sachs executives with $200 million in private equity capital, has named three people to head up mergers and acquisitions as the firm seeks to build a national brand.

With executive leadership based in Monterey, Calif., Modern Wealth established its first anchor offices in the nation’s Midwest with the acquisition of Barber Financial Group in April. The addition of Shad Besikov, Danny Henneghan and Casey Harrison to Modern’s partnership development team will support continued acquisition and integration efforts for the nascent firm, according to an announcement.

Joining as managing director, Besikov was previously head of M&A and corporate development for Exencial Wealth Advisors. Based in Laguna Beach, Calif., he will lead the identification and onboarding of RIA firms in the nation’s West.

Henneghan, stepping into the role of vice president, was most recently a vice president at First Republic Bank, which he joined in 2020 after more than four years on the partnership development team at Focus Financial. Based in Detroit, Mich., he will lead M&A efforts in the Eastern region.

Harrison is the firm’s newest director, joining from Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management, where she was most recently responsible for acquisition integration as associate of advisor engagement. At Modern Wealth, she will oversee the development and progress of all M&A activity “from inception to completion.”

A handful of hires over the last four months have been intended to bolster Modern Wealth’s ambitious growth plans, including former Goldman Sachs Vice Presidents Stephen Tuckwood, Modern’s director of investments, and Nicole Bittner, head of growth operations.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.