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RIA Roundup: Jurika, Mills & Keifer Joins Cerity Partners

More than $6.6 billion in assets was transacted this week, while two new firms were launched, an investment bank opened, and key positions were created and filled.

It was a busy week in the RIA space, as more than $6.6 billion in AUM was transacted, two new firms were launched, Dynasty’s investment bank opened its doors, and four key positions were filled.

Jurika, Mills & Keifer joined Cerity with a small but ultra-wealthy client roster, Wealth Enhancement Group added Heacock & Jones in Iowa, and Savant closed deals with Basil Financial and Paragon Financial on the same day.

Meanwhile, Carson Group tapped Jen Abboud-Smith to head up its proprietary lead generation program, and Linscomb & Williams named a new chairman of the board.

In earlier reported news, Modera Wealth grew AUM by half with its Parsec Financial acquisition; Pathstone will reach tech entrepreneurs in Austin with the addition of Brainard Capital; a Wells Fargo team has gone independent with Summit Financial; a Merrill Lynch team broke away with Dynasty; Matt Sonnen joined Coldstream as COO; and Liz Nesvold became Cresset’s first president.

Jurika, Mills & Keifer Joins Cerity Partners

Cerity Partners, a New York City-based RIA with $66 billion in client assets, acquired a four-person investment team in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jurika, Mills & Keifer serves ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families, managing approximately $300 million in assets for fewer than 100 clients.

“We were seeking a firm that could help us expand our wealth management capabilities with respect to tax, trust and estate planning, executive compensation, insurance and philanthropy,” said JMK President and CIO Karl Mills. “We found that and much more, along with a true culture of partnership with Cerity Partners.

Mills is joined at Cerity by JMK SVP and COO Mikel Keifer and associates Bonnie Burset and Will Richardson.

“This strategic combination will enable Jurika, Mills & Keifer to maintain their excellent client service while providing current and future clients with a broader set of capabilities,” said David DeVoe, founder and CEO of DeVoe & Company. DeVoe, a boutique investment bank and M&A consultant serving RIAs, advised JMK though the transaction.

With 29 offices in 15 states, Cerity serves more than 11,600 clients. The firm offers a broad range of wealth management and family office services to individuals and families, business owners, executives and charities, as well as corporate retirement plan consultation.

Cerity has acquired only one other firm in 2023 but brought over at least nine Silicon Valley Bank advisors in the wake of its collapse on March 10.

Wealth Enhancement Group Adds Heacock & Jones Financial Services With $355M AUM

Minneapolis-based Wealth Enhancement Group announced the acquisition of Heacock & Jones Financial Services.

An independent RIA in Dubuque, Iowa, Heacock & Jones is led by President Paul Heacock and manages more than $355 million in client assets. The acquisition brings WEG to more than $66.8 billion in total assets.

"By partnering with our firm, the team at Heacock & Jones Financial Services will have access to additional resources and tools allowing for an even more elevated financial approach built around their clients' unique goals,” WEG CEO Jeff Dekko said in a statement.

Founded in 2000, Heacock & Jones provides financial planning, investment management, tax planning, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning for approximately 660 clients.

"After 23 years as a private, independent firm, we are excited about partnering with Wealth Enhancement Group,” said Heacock. “We continue to believe an open and transparent, client-centered relationship is the key to long-term success which is aligned with Wealth Enhancement Group's philosophy.” 

Founded in 1997, WEG serves more than 49,000 households from more than 90 offices nationwide.

Savant Wealth Management Acquires Basil Financial Group, Paragon Financial Advisors

Savant Wealth Management, a Rockford, Ill.-based, fee-only RIA, added five employees and a combined $156.6 million in AUM with the acquisitions of Basil Financial Group and Paragon Financial Advisors.

Based in Chicago, Basil is a women-owned, fee-only firm with three employees and $75.5 million in managed assets. Paragon, in Columbia, S.C., consists of two employees managing $84.1 million.

Both acquisitions closed on April 30. Terms were not disclosed.

Led by Lois Basil and Hannah Bryant, Basil expands Savant’s footprint in the Chicago area and represents the firm’s 13th office in Illinois.

“We had been unable to accept new clients since 2021 due to capacity constraints,” Basil, who also becomes an owner at Savant, said in a statement. “Partnering with Savant provides our firm an extensive suite of resources we need to serve both new and current clients alike, with a personalized, high-quality experience they deserve and expect. Additionally, Savant is providing opportunities for all of our team members to do what they are best at.”

Paragon is Savant’s first office in South Carolina. The firm previously used the turnkey asset management program offered by Atlanta-based Capital Directions, which joined Savant in February 2023.

“When Capital Directions made the decision to partner with Savant, we also decided to explore what Savant had to offer,” said Paragon Principal Mark Zion. “We learned that Savant’s additional resources could benefit not only our clients but also our team members.”

“Joining our firm enables these smaller RIAs to provide their clients with a broader array of services, improved technology, and a stronger value proposition that includes better negotiating power to keep investment fees lower,” said Savant founder and CEO Brent Brodeski.

Basil and Paragon are Savant’s second and third acquisitions in 2023, following the February addition of $3.3 billion AUM Capital Directions, the largest transaction in the firm’s history.

Founded in 1986, Savant has 28 offices in 11 states and more than 400 employees overseeing some $18 billion in assets.  

Carson Group Hires Jen Abboud-Smith to Lead Client Acquisition Strategy  

Omaha, Neb.-based Carson Group announced that Jen Abboud-Smith joined the firm as senior vice president of client acquisition. In the newly created role, she works remotely to lead Carson Group’s proprietary lead generation engine and consumer marketing efforts.

Abboud-Smith joined Carson Group as a stakeholder in January after almost three years with Vanguard, where she held leadership roles in marketing. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years at Amazon as its head of global delivery experience marketing.

“Carson’s innovative and fresh approach is what first drew me to the organization, said Abboud-Smith. “This is a tremendous opportunity to drive growth and help our advisors find, attract and retain new customers.”

When Bain Capital purchased a portion of Long Ridge Equity Partner’s minority interest in Carson in 2021, CFO Nick Engelbart told that marketing and lead generation were areas where he felt Bain would have a positive impact.

Carson has since developed a lead generation and conversion program, “from the ground up,” in collaboration with Bain and Boston Consulting Group. The program was unveiled in September at Carson’s annual Excell conference. After months of successful beta testing, it has now been officially rolled out to all Carson advisors.

“We have developed a world-class client acquisition program, that in the first year has driven over 15,000 leads and 1,200 appointments with an average of $560K in AUM to our advisors,” stated Jamie Hopkins, managing partner of wealth solutions at Carson Group. “We are continuing to focus on scaling our program with high-quality and pre-qualified leads so our advisors can focus their time and energy on what’s most important: serving their current clients and adding new ones.”

“This new role will give us the dedicated focus we need to serve that side of the business and our entire advisory network,” he said.

Founded in 1983, Carson Group manages some $21 billion in assets for more than 46,000 families through an advisory network of more than 460 advisors in 36 states.

Linscomb & Williams Elects Walter Christopherson Chairman of the Board

Linscomb & Williams, an RIA subsidiary of Cadence Bank, announced the appointment of Walter Christopherson as the chairman of the firm’s board of directors.

Headquartered in Houston, L&W is a fee-only firm providing financial planning and investment management across more than $4.4 billion in client assets.

Christopherson has been with L&W for more than 40 years in various roles, most recently as vice chairman of the board and chairman of the Investment Committee. 

As one of the architects of the firm's investment infrastructure, he will continue to chair the Investment Committee and will work closely with CEO Phillip Hamman and CIO Ryan Patterson.

Hamman was named president of L&W in 2018 and appointed CEO in August 2022 when Harold Williams stepped down from the role. Patterson was named CIO in 2014.

Harold Williams left L&W in April, along with his brother and son, to launch an RIA that will share profits with clients, leaving the 50-year-old firm with no remaining namesakes.

“As I take on this new role, I am filled with immense pride, honor and gratitude for being elected by my fellow directors,” Christopherson said in a statement. “I am confident that by leveraging our collective expertise, experience and passion, we can drive the organization towards even greater heights.”

Leadership has spent several years focusing on succession and creating an infrastructure to support next-gen advisors and future growth, according to the announcement, and clients can expect business to continue as usual.

“We are incredibly supportive of the fiduciary model L&W has built and how it successfully supports our clients’ wealth management objectives,” said Dan Rollins, chairman and CEO of Cadence Bank. “Our combined capabilities through Cadence Bank and L&W will continue to benefit our clients through holistic opportunities for managing their finances and investments.”

L&W has 55 full-time employees serving clients in 37 states.

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