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Robert "RJ" Moore and Frank Smith Photo provided by Private Advisor Group
Private Advisor Group Executive Chairman Robert "RJ" Moore (left) and President and CEO Frank Smith.

RIA Roundup: Frank Smith Takes Over as CEO at Private Advisor Group

PAG gets a new CEO; Pitcairn takes on a new role; Commonwealth adds $230 million team from Advisor Group; Carson Wealth moves into Missouri; Focus firm announces second deal this month; and Dynasty Financial partners with an insurance provider.

Frank Smith assumed his new role as CEO at Private Advisor Group this week and Rick Pitcairn was replaced as CIO at Pitcairn Trust Company to take on a new role as chief global strategist. In other RIA announcements, Carson acquired a minority stake in a Missouri firm, and Commonwealth recruited a California team from Advisor Group, while Focus facilitated a second acquisition this month for partner firm Kovitz Investment, and Dynasty Financial Partners joined forces with Boulevard Insurance Strategies to help advisors serve ultra-high-net-worth clients. 

Frank Smith Joins Private Advisor Group as CEO

Private Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor platform and office of supervisory jurisdiction based in Morristown, N.J., announced that Frank Smith has officially assumed the role of chief executive officer, a move first announced last year. Smith, who will continue in his role as president concurrent with the new position, replaces Robert "R.J." Moore, who became CEO of PAG in November 2020.

"Reflecting on the last year, our profession has had to address some pretty meaningful challenges and opportunities,” Smith said in a statement. “As someone who has admired Private Advisor Group, first externally and now from the inside, I remain ever impressed at how this team—our employees and the advisor community—shows up in a meaningful way in support of one another, as well as the investors and communities we serve across the country.”

In 2022, Private Advisor Group attracted $4.4 billion in newly affiliated assets under management. The platform also rolled out two new proprietary programs—Advisor Alignment and Equity Program and WealthSuite—exclusive to its advisor community.

"The independent RIA model remains in high demand. Based on licensing and registration data, we see the trend of advisors aligning with an independent RIA continuing,” said PAG’s head of business development, Verne Marble. “There is also continued interest in advisors moving to fee-only, adopting the investment advisor representative or IAR-only model, which was another area of growth for us last year."

Private Advisor Group is actively recruiting financial advisors “with an entrepreneurial and independent mindset,” according to the announcement. Founded in 1997, the platform now boasts more than 750 financial advisors, manages more than $29 billion in client assets and has more than doubled staff in recent years.

Rick Pitcairn Replaced by Nathan Sonnenberg as CIO, Becomes Chief Global Strategist

Pitcairn Trust Company, a century-old family office serving ultra-high-net-worth families, has announced the expansion of its executive leadership team with the addition of Nathan Sonnenberg as new chief investment officer. Pitcairn's long-time CIO, Rick Pitcairn, will take a new role as the firm's chief global strategist.

Founded in 1923 as a single-family office for the Pitcairn family, the firm now serves more than 100 families and is expanding its investment offerings to reach more of the nation’s wealthiest.

At Pitcairn, Sonnenberg will focus on the day-to-day management of the investment team, along with building a long-term capital framework and identifying new opportunities in private markets. In his new role, Pitcairn will advance the firm's global growth strategy, work directly with clients, and produce original research and insights on macroeconomic trends for clients and the media. Both will report to Pitcairn President and CEO Leslie Voth.

"We're excited to welcome Nathan to Pitcairn, and to continue to offer Rick's proven strategic vision and vast market knowledge to our client families as we begin our second century," Voth said in a statement. "These moves build on our decades of investment excellence and will ensure that our ultra-high-net-worth clients continue to receive the trusted investment counsel and sophisticated opportunities they deserve."

Prior to Pitcairn, Sonnenberg was founder of outsourced-CIO consultancy Wealth Management Consulting. He has also held leadership positions, including as chief investment officer, at wealth management firms Fortigent, AdvicePeriod, Glassman Wealth Services and Abbot Downing.

Both men will serve on the firm's leadership team and investment policy committee. Sonnenberg is based in the Washington, D.C., area and will split his time between there and the firm's headquarters in Jenkintown, Pa., as he works to build out a Capital region team. Pitcairn will continue to work from the Pennsylvania office.

Pitcairn Trust Company is a state-regulated entity currently managing $7 billion in client assets.

Carson Wealth Acquires Stake in First Missouri Location

Carson Wealth has acquired a minority stake in White Ember Financial Planning, with $117 million in client assets and an office in Nevada, Mo.

The deal with White Ember, which had a previous relationship with Carson Group through its partner platform and coaching network, will establish the first Carson Wealth-branded location in Missouri.

“We’re thrilled to become Carson Wealth because we know it’s the right decision for our clients and our community,” said Ross Lawrence, managing director and partner at White Ember. “This change enables us to align with a bigger firm—one that will allow us to bring on additional advisors and continue to fuel our firm’s organic growth, all while continuing to provide an exceptional client experience.”

The firm’s previous owner, Greg Hoffman, became affiliated with Carson Coaching in 2006. Lawrence purchased the firm in 2016 and joined Carson Partners, an advisor network leveraging Carson operations, investment, marketing, technology and compliance support.

“We love partnering with advisors like Ross who want to grow,” said Michael Belluomini, Carson’s vice president of mergers and acquisitions. “Most advisors think the only way to partner is to sell. But equity partnerships like this one let owners like Ross retain all the control and get the resources they need to increase the firm’s growth potential.”

Lawrence “is confident this will be a positive change for his five-person team and their clients,” according to the announcement.

Founded in 1983 by Ron Carson and headquartered in Omaha, Neb., Carson Group currently manages more than $20 billion in assets and serves more than 44,700 families through a network that includes 136 partner firms and 36 Carson Wealth locations, some wholly owned and some with a minority stake.

Core Financial Group Chooses Commonwealth to Help Expand Fee-Based Business

Commonwealth Financial Network has recruited its second team of 2023 with Core Financial Group in Yuba City, Calif.  

Formerly with Advisor Group, advisors Michael Critchfield, Matthew DiGiacomo and their team bring more than $230 million in client assets to Commonwealth’s hybrid advisor platform.

Core focuses on serving retirees and pre-retirees, as well as small-business owners and families, according to the announcement. The firm expects to leverage the Commonwealth partnership to expand its fee-based business.

“The advisor-centric, service-oriented culture aligns with who we are and the way we serve our own clients,” DiGiacomo said, noting the “flexibility” of the tools and technologies offered on the Commonwealth platforms. “It comes down to technology, service and culture.”

“Core is committed to creating a network of clients similar to how Commonwealth fosters its community of advisors, which makes us a great pairing,” said Becca Hajjar, managing principal and chief business development officer at Commonwealth. “We’re excited to welcome them into the fold.”

Privately owned, Commonwealth was founded in 1979 and has its headquarters in Waltham, Mass., and San Diego. Today, more than 2,000 Commonwealth advisors oversee around $280 billion in client assets.

Focus Partner Kovitz Investment Group to Buy Newman Schimel

Focus Financial Partners announced this week that Chicago-based partner firm Kovitz Investment Group has agreed to acquire Newman Schimel, a registered investment advisor in Deerfield, Ill.  

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions.

Founded in 2006 by Jack Newman and Bryan Schimel, Newman Schimel provides investment management and retirement planning services to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, with a focus on professional athletes. In addition to growing Kovtiz’s Chicago-area footprint, the deal will expand the firm’s access to the pro athlete niche while providing Newman Schimel with scale, infrastructure and a range of services, including family office needs and investment management expertise.

"Kovitz and Newman Schimel have a long-standing relationship dating back 20 years to when I first met Jack Newman,” said founder and co-CIO Mitch Kovitz. “Having Newman Schimel join us will not only expand our presence in the greater Chicago area but will also add talented professionals to our team and a strong base of clients."

"This is a highly synergistic transaction and illustrates our ability to provide access to capital and leverage our extensive M&A expertise on behalf of our partner firms to help them grow and expand their businesses,” said Focus CEO Rudy Adolf. “Since joining Focus in 2016, Kovitz has more than doubled its revenues, in part by utilizing both our scale and value-added services."

Founded in New York City in 2006, Focus now manages about $350 billion in assets for about 18,000 clients in four countries and claimed $1.8 billion in revenue and $24.4 billion in net profit at the end of last year. 

Dynasty Financial Partners Partners With Boulevard Insurance Strategies to Serve UHNW Clients

Dynasty Financial Partners has announced a new strategic partnership with Boulevard Insurance Strategies to help Dynasty’s network of registered investment advisors deliver risk protection products and services designed for ultra-high-net-worth clients.

​​​​“As independent advisors grow their practices and increase the sophistication of their offerings, the importance of specialty partnerships is critical,” BIS founder Matt Celenza said, in a statement. “Our goal is to simplify the complex, allowing clients and advisors to receive the best advice, support and execution for their insurance needs while maintaining clear alignment with existing and future financial planning.”

​​​​​​BIS and its team of 14 specialists will provide Dynasty’s clients with assistance across the entire protection life cycle, according to the announcement, from case design and point-of-sale support to underwriting and implementation. The firm leverages industry partnerships to provide access to an array of insurance solutions, from basic whole-life policies to offshore and global-client solutions.

“We have watched Matt and his team carefully build BIS over the past 5 1/2 years,” said Dynasty co-founder and CEO Shirl Penney. “Given their understanding of the Dynasty Network, we see this partnership ramping up quickly, providing immediate enhancements to our collective offering.

“Because Matt and his colleagues have strong backgrounds in private wealth management, they are uniquely situated to collaborate ‘peer to peer’ in helping advisors anticipate and meet their clients’ high-end planning needs,” he said.

Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Dynasty Financial Partners currently has 47 RIAs on its platform with more than $72 billion in client assets.

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