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RIA Roundup: Hightower Adds CPA Firm in Latest Deal

Beyond Hightower's expansion, no less than five other deals were announced this week along with a handful of RIA executive moves.

Hightower has added a tax practice to its Wealth Solutions platform, while IMA Financial added more than $2 billion to its wealth management business with philanthropy-focused Syntrinsic and The Wealth Consulting Group added $2 billion with Kansas-based V Wealth.

In other news announced this week, Allworth added a father-daughter team in its fifth acquisition of the year, Cerity added a female-focused firm with offices in California and Virginia, and a pair of advisors left Mayflower Advisors to join Pallas Capital.

In some key people moves, Perigon Wealth named a new CIO that was formerly with Wipfli Advisors, Lido Advisors tapped Jordan Greenhouse from Kanye Anderson Rudnick to serve as its first chief growth officer and Steward Partners has brought in a new managing director, previously with Sanctuary, focused on seducing wirehouse advisors.

In earlier reported news, Captrust bought $2.3B AUM Southern Wealth Management and Abry Partners is investing in Prime Capital Investment Advisors.

Hightower Adds Subsidiary CPA Firm in Latest Deal

Hightower Advisors acquired a Philadelphia-based CPA firm providing wealthy clients and businesses with tax advice, strategy and preparation, as well as accounting, employee benefits and wealth planning services.

Established in 1992, GMS Surgent is led by managing partners Jack Surgent, Brian Gallagher and Lauren Adamski. The deal adds a team of about 30 and full-service CPA capabilities to Hightower’s Wealth Solutions platform—which includes services and tools around trust, insurance, estate planning and business ownership—meant to help all Hightower firms bring additional resources to their clients.

GMS Surgent will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Hightower.

Hightower CEO Bob Oros said the addition will provide all Hightower firms with “a vetted resource to deliver comprehensive tax services to clients via a seamless experience.”

Hightower is one of several firms to have recently acquired or partnered with CPA practices, including Creative Planning.

Investment banker John Langston, founder and managing partner of Republic Capital Group, said adding more services like tax, trust and insurance is “the most important trend in the industry.”

“It’s definitely going to increase,” he said. “Clients are asking for it and they need it.”

Backed by capital partners Thomas H. Lee, Neuberger Berman and Goldman Sachs, Chicago-based Hightower oversees around $153 billion in client assets across 132 advisory businesses in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

IMA Financial Picks Up Philanthropy-focused RIA with $2.4B AUM

IMA Financial Group, a Wichita, Kan.-based firm providing insurance, employee benefits and wealth management services, has added $2.4 billion in assets under its dually registered wealth management division with the acquisition of a Denver-based practice serving charitable organizations.

Founded in August 2008, Syntrinsic is a hybrid RIA led by co-presidents and co-owners Ben Valore-Caplan and Akasha Absher. Nine-tenths of the firm’s assets represent foundations, endowments and nonprofits, while the other 10% is wealthy individuals and a handful of businesses.

In addition to providing investment advice and portfolio administration, the firm offers research, donor and next-gen education, coaching services for non-profits, and support for multi-generational family wealth.

The firm will retain leadership and the Syntrinsic identity under the IMA Company umbrella. A 15-person team will relocate to an IMA office in Denver’s Union Station later this year, according to an announcement, and will work with IMA colleagues to capture best practices, realize efficiencies and tap into shared resources. Team members will also have the opportunity to take IMA equity.

“With Syntrinsic as a partner, we can offer more to our diverse client base and further our mission to protect assets,” IMA Chairman and CEO Rob Cohen said in a statement. “[B]y combining Syntrinsic’s investment proficiencies with IMA’s risk management expertise and shared resources.”

“This isn’t a “sell and sail away” situation, it’s a long-term growth strategy,” said Michael Wunderli, managing director at Echelon Partners, the RIA-focused investment bank that represented Syntrinsic in the deal.

“Syntrinsic’s comprehensive impact-investment offering is truly elite, and this transaction will provide exposure to a much wider audience across the country, as well as the necessary resources to successfully manage the growth and scale,” he said.

V Wealth Joins The Wealth Consulting Group

The Wealth Consulting Group, a privately-owned hybrid RIA based out of Las Vegas, merged with $2 billion AUM V Wealth in Overland Park, Kan., in a deal that closed Friday.

The combination brings the firm to more than $7 billion in client assets, 145 advisors and 41 branch offices in 15 states.

Led by managing partners Tom Blumer, Brett Lange and Dan Cherra, V Wealth provides investment management, financial planning and insurance services to thousands of individuals, 62 retirement plans and 50 corporations and charities. The firm was established in 2009.

Owned by founder and CEO Jimmy Lee, who launched the RIA in 2014, WCG provides a multi-custodial platform, leveraging LPL for brokerage services, for independent advisors offering private and institutional wealth management services. Centralized services include financial planning, investment strategies, insurance brokerage, practice management, marketing, administration, real estate, M&A support and more.

“The WCG team provides exactly what our advisors have been asking for, which are additional services they believe are valuable to their clients,” Blumer said in a statement. “WCG has created solutions that independent advisors are seeking with economics for the advisor that are second to none.”

“We believe that WCG’s unique value proposition combining the financial planning support to advisors and flexible separate account investment management strategies will help the former V Wealth advisors offer more value to their clients,” added Lee.

The deal, first reported by Citywire RIA, is the first of its kind for WCG.

Allworth Financial Buys $260M Father-Daughter Firm in Massachusetts

In its fifth acquisition of the year, Allworth Financial added a father-daughter team in Waltham, Mass., along with a team of five and $260 million in assets.

Owned by principals Roger Ingwersen and Laurie Ingwersen, The Harvest Group brings Allworth to a total of 29 acquisitions over the last five years and represents the sixth female equity partner to join in the last 12 months.  

“In the next six years, nearly $30 trillion is expected to be controlled by women. Any firm that is serious about growth should be focused on finding highly qualified and experienced female advisors to connect with that shifting demographic,” Allworth co-founder and co-CEO Pat McClain said in a statement.

Roger Ingwersen said the move was driven by a need for additional marketing, operational and other resources Allworth can provide to facilitate growth. 

“Successful, owner-operator advisory firms face this decision every day,” said Allworth’s other co-founder and CEO, Scott Hanson. “They’ve hit an inflection point, invest in technology, marketing and other operational costs or partner with a larger firm that’s already made those investments.”

Both Ingwersens commented on the cultural alignment between the two firms, a sentiment echoed by Allworth leadership.

Established in 1993 as Hanson McClain Advisors, the firm had reached $2 billion in assets by 2017, when it partnered with private equity firm Parthenon Capital Advisors. After announcing its first acquisition in 2018, the name was changed to Allworth Financial the following year. In 2020, Lightyear Capital acquired Parthenon’s investment.

Following 28 more transactions, Sacramento-based Allworth now oversees more than $15 billion in regulatory assets across tens of thousands of clients—primarily individuals, in addition to around 200 retirement plans, 40 corporations and 20 charitable organizations.

Lumina Financial Consultants Joins Cerity

Cerity Partners added a female-focused firm with around $150 million in client assets, the firm announced.

Lumina Financial Consultants is owned and led by partners Jeanie Schwarz and Laurie Fried. The five-person, all-female team is focused on providing financial planning, investment management and divorce planning for women and their families in California, Virginia and New York.

The deal expands Cerity’s presence in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fried will serve as partner and advisor, and establishes the firm in the greater Richmond, Va., area, where Shwarz will be a partner and advisor.

The addition also furthers Cerity’s “ongoing focus” on better serving women, who are expected to control an increasing chunk of wealth over the coming years.

"We see this partnership as a terrific way to enhance the breadth of our firm's services with talented partners and colleagues in key markets while also expanding our existing capabilities in serving the needs of women, their families and their businesses," Cerity Head of Partner Development Claire O’Keefe said in a statement.

“We share a principle-based philosophy with Cerity Partners and that combined with the firm's nationwide presence and wide range of services make this partnership powerfully differentiating for our industry,” added Schwarz.

“We knew the ideal partner for Lumina was one that genuinely shared its passion and commitment to serving women in transition, many of whom are taking control of their financial lives after a divorce,” said Brain Lauzon, managing director at InCap Group, the industry-focused investment bank representing Luminant in the deal.

Founded in 2009, Cerity provides estate, financial, tax, compensation, and benefit planning, as well as investment management, tax preparation and personal financial administration services to more than 11,500 clients with about $66 billion in managed assets.

$175M Duo Joins Pallas Capital from Mayflower Advisors

A financial planning team from Mayflower Advisors managing more than $175 million in assets joined Pallas Capital Advisors.

Based in the greater Boston area, where Pallas has its headquarters, Damien DePeter and Michael McCarthy specialize in providing advice to corporate employees with company stock options and business owners.

"As we delved deeper into Pallas Capital's values, comprehensive planning, distinctive investment possibilities, resources and collaborative culture, we knew it was an opportunity we would not be able to pass up," DePeter said in a statement.

"Pallas Capital met our vision but exceeded what we had in mind for our growth potential,” added McCarthy.

Since launching in July 2019, Pallas has expanded its headquarters, transitioned six teams and opened five new offices in the nation’s Northeast. The firm oversees more than $1.5 billion across fewer than 800 clients and a dozen retirement plans, according to its most recent Form ADV filing.

"We continue to seek advisors that share a similar practice philosophy and more importantly, a desire to grow their practice, in the ultra-high-net-worth space,” said Pallas founding partner and CEO Richard Mullen.

Perigon Wealth Management Names New CIO

Perigon Wealth Management tapped Rafia Hasan, former CIO at Wipli Financial Advisors, to step into that role for Perigon.

Hasan left Wipfli in October, following its acquisition by Creative Planning. Prior to Wipfli, she spent two years as a senior associate at Dimensional Fund Advisors and two as an advisor with The Cogent Advisor. She has also held investment roles with Citibank in their Emerging Markets Corporate Bank and at Credit Suisse in their Alternative Investments Division, according to an announcement.

Hasan is stepping into a role vacated in May, when Stephen Colavito moved to San Blas Securities.

As CIO, she will be responsible for investment strategy, overseeing the investment team and supporting the firm’s growing stable of advisors as Perigon pursues a national growth strategy.

“Her unique background of institutional and advisory investment leadership will enable Perigon to implement our vision of building a scalable investment platform that provides a custom investing experience for our advisors and clients,” Perigon CEO Arthur Ambarak said in a statement, noting Hasan’s experience with other rapidly growing firms.

“The current investment landscape presents unique challenges and opportunities for a firm like Perigon,” added Hasan. “We will build upon the platform in place and find opportunities to enhance and scale the investment program for Perigon’s advisors.” 

Founded in 2004, San Francisco-based Perigon offers a flexible affiliation model to advisors joining its growing platform. After adding two new firms this spring, Perigon oversees around $5.6 billion in client assets across about 60 advisors and 17 office locations on both coasts and in Honolulu.

Lido Advisors Hires Jordan Greenhouse as Chief Growth Officer

Lido Advisors, a $17 billion AUM firm based in Los Angeles, hired Jordan Greenhouse as its first chief growth officer.

Greenhouse joins Lido from Kanye Anderson Rudnick, where he served as managing director of the firm’s institutional and retail businesses for seven years as it grew from $8.6 billion in assets to more than $65 billion.

At Lido, he will be responsible for overseeing business development and growth initiatives as the firm works to expand its presence, according to an announcement.

“Lido’s approach to investments using traditional and alternative solutions combined with their comprehensive network of in-house and affiliated wealth, tax and estate planning professionals were key factors leading to my desire to join,” Greenhouse said in a statement.

“His extensive experience, strong client relationships, and deep industry knowledge will be critical as we continue to expand our national footprint and bring the family office experience to a wider audience,” added Lido CEO Jason Ozur.

Backed by Charlesbank, Lido has recruited 8 new advisors in 2023, including a $1 billion AUM team from First Republic. The firm has 32 office locations and around 200 employees, more than half of which are advisors.

Steward Partners Taps Sanctuary’s Paul Sullivan to Poach Wirehouse Advisors

Steward Partners added a new member to its executive leadership team.

Paul Sullivan, who spent more than three decades with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, has spent the last two years as managing director for Sanctuary Wealth on the East Coast.

Sullivan has stepped into a newly created role at Steward, as managing partner and head of internal sourcing. He will be responsible for “educating and advising wirehouse financial advisors on the benefits of independence, specifically as it relates to the partnership models and choice of custodians that Steward provides to their employees,” according to an announcement.

"Having made the move to independence himself, Paul understands what advisors need to transition successfully and can thoughtfully articulate the benefits of making that change,” Steward co-founder and CEO Jim Gold said in a statement.

“Steward Partners is perfect for me,” Sullivan added, noting that all advisors are equity owners “from day one,” and saying the firm’s “human capital infrastructure” is well suited to independent advisors.

Steward celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month, and the fact that the firm has grown assets from $50 million to close to $30 billion in that time.

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