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RIA Roundup: Mariner Wealth Advisors Acquires Arizona Tax Practice

The RIA space was on fire this week—eight acquisitions were announced, along with three newly created roles, one rebranding and a new head of NAPFA.

RIAs are getting plenty of deal-making done in February. Mariner Wealth Advisors, Hightower, Focus Financial’s Buckingham Strategic Wealth, Sanctuary’s Alluvial Private Wealth, Kestra’s Grove Point and Ashton Thomas Private Wealth all announced acquisitions this week, in deals worth more than $1.4 billion in cumulative client assets.

Meanwhile Savant and Wealthspire both added talent in newly created roles to facilitate growth, Strategies Wealth Advisors has a new name, and NAPFA named Kathryn Dattomo as its new CEO.

Mariner Wealth Advisors Acquires Arizona Tax Practice 

Mariner Wealth Advisors announced its first acquisition of 2023—the Arizona-based tax practice Hopkins Tameron Hostal.

Joe Tameron and David Hopkins founded the firm in 2017. They previously worked together at the national CPA firm CliftonLarsonAllen and launched Hopkins with the intention of providing clients with more personalized services. Their team of 10 offers tax, consulting and wealth management services to professionals in industries such as construction, real estate, manufacturing, hospitality and technology. In 2022, Hopkins also completed 1,500 returns for corporate and individual clients.

The integration of Hopkins’ services aligns with Mariner’s goal to provide clients with "a full catalog of solutions in-house," according to Wednesday’s announcement

“It has always been our vision to provide our clients with national firm experience and knowledge, while still offering the individualized and personal attention they deserve,” Hopkins said in a statement. “Joining Mariner Wealth Advisors will accelerate our mission of turning vision into value for our clients, and we are excited to broaden the scope of services we’re able to provide with the firm’s support.” 

“Hopkins and Tameron have demonstrated admirable success in their operations on both a national and independent scale,” Mariner CEO Marty Bicknell said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing this success translate into the team’s work with our advisors and clients in the greater Scottsdale and Phoenix area, as well as nationwide.”

The deal is somewhat unusual for Mariner—which has an aggressive M&A strategy primarily targeting registered investment advisors—but isn’t the first in its history. The firm has completed six such acquisitions and three lift-outs, including two 2019 acquisitions that established tax affiliates in Los Angeles and New Jersey.

The firm has grown to 84 locations nationwide since its 2006 launch and is now working to provide clients with a “seamless” wealth management experience, including access to tax, trust, insurance and estate specialists.

The transaction closed Jan. 31, 2023, and Hopkins’ Scottsdale office officially joined the Mariner brand on Thursday. Following integration, the Hopkins team will remain in their Scottsdale office and provide support for Mariner’s Scottsdale and Phoenix locations.

Launched with just $300 million in client assets less than 20 years ago, Mariner and its affiliates now advise on more than $105 billion in assets.

Hightower Buys $625M Bickling Financial Services

Hightower announced the acquisition of Bickling Financial Services, a Lexington, Mass.-based registered investment advisor with approximately $625 million in assets under management and three offices across the state.

Bickling is a family-owned business founded in 1984 by Dorothy Bickling, one of the first 600 people—and one of the first women—to earn the Certified Financial Planner designation. Sons Spencer and Andrew Betts joined the firm in 2000 and 2007, respectively, helping to transition Bickling to an SEC-registered firm in 2015. They currently work as co-managing principals and have aimed to institutionalize the business.

“As a firm, we have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years,” Spencer Betts said in a statement. “To continue achieving our growth goals, we knew we needed a strategic partner that could help us scale the business and invest in its future.”

“We see this as the next evolution of our business,” added Andrew Betts. “We knew we wanted a firm that would add resources and expertise, but also gives us the freedom to implement our strategic vision.”

With a staff of 14 employees, including five advisors, Bickling provides full-service wealth management and financial planning services to more than 850 clients and 27 pension plans in 13 states, according to its latest ADV filing.

“We look forward to helping them achieve their ambitious growth goals, both organically and through talent acquisition, scale their operations and develop the next-generation of leaders through programs like our Hightower Center for Leadership,” said Hightower CEO Bob Oros.

Hightower’s model is predicated on buying independent, growth-oriented firms and providing them with the means to facilitate that growth in a wide variety of ways, including M&A support, talent acquisition, technology, investment management, back-office support, business development resources and more. Firms are fully acquired and moved to the Hightower ADV.

The Chicago-based RIA platform currently boasts 132 affiliates in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The company ended 2022 with around $144.3 billion in assets under administration and $113.7 billion under management.

Schwinck Private Wealth Team Joins Ashton Thomas Private Wealth From Wells Fargo

Schwinck Private Wealth, which managed more than $500 million at Wells Fargo Advisors, joined Ashton Thomas Private Wealth and established two new offices in the Rocky Mountain region.

“We’re committed to a collaborative approach in providing solutions-oriented, advice-driven wealth management services for each client we have the privilege of serving,” Schwinck Managing Director Karl Schwinck said in a statement, noting that months of due diligence went into the search for an independent partner.

“We believe Ashton Thomas will allow us to elevate that experience for our clients and ensure we continue providing the ‘white glove’ concierge service they have come to expect from us,” Schwinck said.

In addition to Schwinck, the team includes Senior Wealth Advisor John McCloskey, Wealth Advisor Cade Hammarquist, Private Wealth Client Associate Sandy Martin and Private Wealth Marketing Associate Tiffany Shorkey. They will co-locate in the firm’s new Denver and Colorado Springs offices.

“We believe the addition of Karl, John, and team mark a pivotal point in the growth of Ashton Thomas,” said Ashton Thomas CEO and founder Aaron Brodt. “We opened a 9,300-square-foot office in a prime location in the Cherry Creek section of Denver. We also took down space in Colorado Springs, a metro area which fits the profile of others in which we’ve had success to date. We’re committed to Colorado, and the addition of the Schwinck team is a clear demonstration of that commitment to the community.”

Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., Ashton Thomas manages more than $2 billion across more than 1,500 clients. The firm provides foundations, businesses and wealthy individuals and families with fee-based financial planning and investment portfolio management, as well as retirement plan consulting and financial education.

Alluvial Private Wealth Expands in Cleveland With Sanctuary Support

Sanctuary Wealth completed a subacquisition for partner firm Alluvial Private Wealth, enabling Alluvial to open a new office in a Cleveland Opportunity Zone district.

Led by Randall and Kerry Bliss, the team from HB Wealth Advisors joins Alluvial with $70 million in assets. It is the first acquisition Alluvial has made since launching with Sanctuary’s support in January 2021.

"We're thrilled they've chosen to partner with us as we continue to grow Alluvial Private Wealth,” said Alluvial founder Lars Olson, in a statement. “The fact that so many of their clients represent multiple generations of the same family is indicative of the quality of the work that they do on behalf of their clients.”

"There were numerous reasons why I decided to join with Lars and Alluvial Private Wealth," said Randall Bliss in a statement. “But I was really impressed with the Sanctuary platform and the deep bench and more sophisticated approach that I would have access to through Alluvial.”

The subacquisition is the fifth Sanctuary has completed on behalf of a partner firm, following closely on the G Squared Private Wealth tuck-in of Brandi Cooper’s team from Morgan Stanley.

"Our goal since first launching Sanctuary was to provide the assistance our partner firms need to grow to the next level, including through mergers and acquisitions," said Michael Longley, Sanctuary’s chief growth officer. "Alluvial Private Wealth have shown themselves to be great partners and we're proud to help them expand through this strategic acquisition and excited to welcome Randy and Kerry Bliss into the Sanctuary network."

Randall Bliss has almost 40 years of financial services experience and for the last 21 years has been an independent financial advisor affiliated with Concourse Financial Group. He spent 16 of those years as a supervising principal while building his own practice, resigning six years ago to focus on his clients.

He is joined by his wife, Kerry, who has more than a decade of experience and holds multiple professional licenses.

Headquartered in Marion, Ohio, Alluvial has opened its first Cleveland location where the team is based.

“We chose to open in an Opportunity Zone because we are committed to helping to revitalize our communities by bringing jobs and economic activity back into the heart of downtown Cleveland," said Olson. 

Latest Focus Tuck-In, Davis Financial Planning, to Join Buckingham Strategic Wealth  

National RIA partner platform Focus Financial Partners has struck a deal to join Davis Financial Planning with Focus partner firm Buckingham Strategic Wealth.

Founded in 2010, Asheville, N.C.-based Davis provides financial planning and advisory services, as well as tax planning and preparation, to individuals and families. It manages around $105 million in client assets. The deal will expand Buckingham’s North Carolina presence.

"We have been looking at options to evolve our services, enhance our technology and increase our community engagement while continuing to provide our clients with the excellent service they expect and deserve," Davis Financial founder Al Davis said in a statement. "We needed a partner that would allow us to focus on what we do best—helping our clients plan for all of their life changes. Buckingham is the perfect cultural fit for our team."

"We are pleased that Davis Financial Planning will be joining Buckingham allowing them to expand into Asheville, which is an important wealth market in North Carolina," said Focus CEO Rudy Adolf. "This addition will not only add a talented team of advisors to Buckingham but will also further solidify its position as a leading wealth manager with a national footprint."

Headquartered in St. Louis, Buckingham has 50 offices across the country and manages around $20 billion in assets.

In December, Focus announced that Buckingham would be acquiring Oxford Financial Partners in Cincinnati in a deal set to close this quarter.

The transaction with Davis is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023, subject to customary conditions.

Father-Son Team With $62M Joins Grove Point Financial

Grove Point Financial, a hybrid RIA platform owned by Kestra Holdings, has announced the addition of Garner Group Financial, a Delaware-based father-son team managing $62 million in client assets.

Led by founder Eugene Garner and his son Joe Garner, the firm specializes in retirement planning and multigenerational wealth strategies. Eugene Garner, who is dually registered, launched the firm after 18 years with David Lerner Associates and nearly two decades running his own business. Joe Garner is a FINRA-registered broker and his father's planned successor.

“We were looking for a partner who embraced and elevated our entrepreneurial spirit, and that is exactly what Grove Point did for us,” Eugene Garner said in a statement. “We firmly believe in Grove Point’s mission of supporting a community of like-minded financial professionals and are thrilled to be a part of it.”

The transaction gives Garner access to Grove Point’s investment solutions and back-office support, according to the announcement.

“We are dedicated to bringing value to every aspect of our financial professionals’ businesses and providing them with the tools to grow and further support their clients,” said Grove Point EVP of Business Development Rob Engle.

Operating out of Rockville, Md., Grove Point currently provides broker/dealer and RIA services to more than 500 professionals nationwide.

Savant Wealth Management Hires Two in Support of Growth Goals

Savant Wealth Management, a Rockford, Ill.-based RIA with around $14 billion in client assets, has announced the recruitment of two more industry professionals to support the firm’s aggressive mergers and acquisitions strategy and a new client service platform.   

The newly created positions are intended to facilitate Savant’s plans to grow in scale by three to five times over the next five years.

Myles Cavell joined Savant from Edelman Financial Engines, where he spent the last 4 1/2 years in various roles, most recently as regional director for M&A integrations. Prior to Edelman, he spent more than eight years with TD Ameritrade and several months with Financial Engines. In his new role as director of partner optimization, Cavell serves as an “advocate” to newly acquired firms and guides leadership through the transition and integration processes.

Cavell sits on Savant’s advisory leadership team, reporting to Chief Advisory Officer Chris Walters.

Brad Felix came to Savant from TruePoint Wealth Counsel, where he was director of innovation and a shareholder, and Commas, an RIA he founded and remained with as a portfolio manager, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he was a portfolio manager at Opus Capital Management.

At Savant, Felix will work with Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Rob Morrison to develop and launch the firm’s Ideal Futures Platform, a fintech-based financial planning process aimed at improving overall client experience.

“In 2023, we are focused on growth and committed to making experiences more seamless and hassle-free, not only for clients, but also with the partner firms we acquire,” Savant CEO Brent Brodeski said in a statement. “Myles will be dedicated to smoothing the transition for firms partnering with Savant, from both an operational and cultural perspective. As director of our Ideal Futures Platform, Brad will be working to create a more impactful onboarding process and an easier way for clients to follow their progress toward their goals.”

Earlier this month, Savant announced Patrick Lawlor joined Savant as head of mergers and acquisitions, a role created to help expand its M&A activity. In 2021, Savant recapitalized to accelerate from incremental to exponential growth, and last year, it strengthened its advisory leadership team by bringing in Walters as chief advisory officer, Jason English as director of growth and John Hanley as director of practice management.

Savant Wealth Management offers investment management, financial planning, retirement plan and family office services to wealthy individuals and institutions, while providing corporate accounting, tax preparation, payroll and consulting through its affiliate, Savant Tax & Consulting. 

Wealthspire Advisors Names Channing Olson Head of Integration and Project Management

Wealthspire Advisors, NFP’s subsidiary RIA platform, tapped Channing Olson to lead integration, project management and communication initiatives at the firm as it continues to expand through mergers and acquisitions.

Olson is joining from Private Ocean, a firm that had 22 partners and $2.7 billion in assets when it was acquired by Wealthspire in late 2021. Following that integration effort, she was involved in the integration of multiple other firms, according to Monday’s announcement. Prior to Private Ocean, Olson managed operations and marketing for Partners In Leadership, a consulting firm to Fortune 1000 companies, and was a litigation legal assistant for law firm Greenberg Traurig.

“Channing's role will greatly enhance the integration process by providing more focused support to those who are actively involved and improving the overall experience for staff who join,” said Wealthspire Head of M&A Hoyt Stastney, adding that she “knows firsthand what needs to happen in order for these integrations to be successful.”

“Investing in this area is a strategic advantage for us and a true differentiator in the M&A space,” said Olson. “It’s exciting to be in a role where I can leverage my expertise in change management and culture to emphasize our focus on our people and our clients.”

The Private Ocean arm of Wealthspire, which maintains a separate ADV and accounts for close to $3 billion in assets, has been included on’s RIA Edge 100 list as a registered investment advisor growing at a faster pace than its peers while maintaining an above-average advisor-to-client ratio and investing in CFP certificants.

Last spring, NFP realigned the company to place a greater emphasis on its wealth management businesses, including Wealthspire and Fiducient Advisors, another SEC-registered entity serving retirement plan sponsors, private clients, endowments and financial institutions. At the time, NFP President Mike Goldman said the move was meant to create greater visibility for the segment, which accounted for more than 16% of revenues. 

"We also want to show clients that wealth management stands side-by-side and integrates well with our P&C and Benefits & Life segments,” he said.

Across all entities, Wealthspire currently has 19 offices in 10 states managing around $18.8 billion in assets.

Strategies Wealth Advisors Rebrands as Innovia Wealth

Strategies Wealth Advisors has become Innovia Wealth in a rebranding effort meant to “better reflect changes in the wealth management landscape and the firm’s continued evolution and growth,” according to an announcement.

"A lot has changed in wealth management since I founded Strategies Wealth Advisors in 2007,” Innovia Managing Director Michael Berkemeier said in a statement. “We’ve grown in size and scope, by adding professional staff, adopting new technologies, broadening our offerings, and finding new ways to better serve our clients.”

"We chose the name Innovia because it reflects our commitment to innovation, joined with the word ‘via,’ which means the ‘way’ or ‘path,’" said CIO and Managing Director Aaron Veldheer. "Proven ideas become innovation when they can be replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs. We work every day to innovate our clients' financial lives better and provide a path forward that will allow them to realize their dreams."

With $1.5 billion in assets under management, Innovia provides holistic financial planning and investment advice to entrepreneurs, high-net-worth families and nonprofits, bolstered by a credentialed team experienced in tax, legal, insurance and estate-related matters.

“As far as the families we work with are concerned, the only thing changing is our name,” said Berkemeier. “They can rest assured that our fiduciary mindset and steadfast commitment to their financial well-being remains the same as it has been since the start of our relationship."

NAPFA Appoints New CEO

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, a professional organization of fiduciary, fee-only financial advisors, announced that Kathryn A. Dattomo has been appointed CEO—effective March 13.

She will relieve Leslie Stokes, who became interim CEO when Geoffrey Brown stepped down to follow another career opportunity in November.

In her new role, Dattomo will lead NAPFA membership while representing the organization to donors, sponsors, partners and other stakeholders. According to the announcement, she will also work to expand membership and programming with a focus on DEI, advocacy and “professional excellence.” 

“As a veteran association professional, I’m very excited to join NAPFA,” Dattomo said in a statement. “NAPFA’s commitment to professional development and member success mirrors my own values and I look forward to upholding the organization’s strong priorities and expanding its reach to advance NAPFA, the member community and the financial planning profession.”

Founded in 1983, NAPFA is dedicated to fiduciary financial planners, providing education, professional connections, business development resources and advocacy in support of members’ success. Headquartered in Chicago, NAPFA represents more than 4,500 SEC- and state-registered advisors in the U.S. and abroad.

Dattomo comes to NAPFA from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, where she served as chief development officer for three years, leading the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation, marketing communications and industry relations. Prior to that role, she spent 15 years at the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy as executive director of the ASGE Foundation.

Dattomo holds a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from North Park University and is both a Certified Association Executive and a Certified Fund Raising Executive.

“Kathryn’s strategic drive and her long, distinguished career in the association management community make her the perfect choice to lead NAPFA into the next phase of its development,” said NAPFA Board Chair Jeff Jones. “We’re thrilled to welcome Kathryn aboard.”

The search was conducted by association and nonprofit search experts Vetted Solutions.

In other RIA news…

NewEdge launches W2 model, TruClarity is selling its businesses separately, Sequoia adds $5 billion firm and Private Wealth Asset Management recruits two U.S. Bank expats.

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