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RIA Roundup: NFP Acquires Divergent Wealth Advisors

NFP grew its wealth and retirement business in Utah, R&R left Avantax for Commonwealth, tru Independence launched its 4th firm of 2023 and Johnson Financial, LPL and Kestra all made announcements this week.

NFP added more than half a billion dollars to its growing wealth and retirement business and R&R Wealth management left Avantax Investment Management to join Commonwealth, while tru Independence launched its fourth firm of the year, Johnson Financial bought The Appleton Group and LPL’s employee advisor channel welcomed a former Wells Fargo advisor in announcements this week.

At the same time, Kestra Investment Management has reached $1 billion in client assets since launching in 2021, with the firm crediting its model portfolios.

In earlier news, Mesirow will acquire $1.2 billion AUM Front Barnett Associates and Captrust is taking on its second capital partner, Carlyle.

NFP Acquires Divergent Wealth Advisors

NFP, an insurance brokerage, employee benefits and wealth management firm based out of New York City, acquired Divergent Wealth Advisors in South Jordan, Utah. An RIA focused on providing holistic wealth management and retirement planning, Divergent is led by co-founders Jordan Collins and Brady Ririe, who will join NFP and report to Jeff Scott, senior vice president of retirement.

“We know our clients have needs beyond wealth management and retirement, and as part of NFP we have a great opportunity to introduce a breadth of solutions that addresses these needs,” Ririe and Collins said in a joint statement.

When the deal closed on Aug. 7, the 13-person team managed more than $675 million for over 750 clients.

“We’re expanding our wealth management and retirement plan capabilities, while increasing our presence in the fast-growing Western US,” said Scott. “We’re also adding a group of talented wealth advisors who are committed to delivering an amazing client experience built on a foundation of trust and fiduciary care.” 

NFP’s wealth and retirement division currently accounts for roughly 16% of the firm’s annual revenue, with its SEC-registered entity overseeing more than $75 billion at the end of 2022.

R&R Wealth Management Leaves Avantax for Commonwealth

Commonwealth Financial Network added R&R Wealth Management in Waukesha, Wisc., to its growing network of independent advisors.

Vice presidents of wealth management and senior financial advisors Robert Holton and Tom Driscoll brought a team of six and around $223 million in client assets to Commonwealth from Avantax Investment Services.

“We took a strategic look at who our RIA/broker/dealer was and who gave us the best opportunity to grow going forward,” Holton said in a statement. “We want to build our business to $1 billion in assets over the next four years, and that growth trajectory needs a partner who can support our goals. We feel strongly that Commonwealth is the ideal partner as we grow both organically and through acquisitions.”

Holton said the team plans to take advantage of Commonwealth’s broader planning and investment management resources, in addition to the firm’s retirement plan team, to attract talented, growth-minded advisors.

“We look forward to providing flexible financing, investment management and retirement planning support to allow R&R Wealth to take the next step in the evolution of its firm,” said Commonwealth Managing Principal and Chief Business Development Officer Becca Hajjar.

A dually registered wealth management firm supporting more than 2,100 independent advisors overseeing around $243 billion in client assets nationwide, Commonwealth has headquarters in the greater Boston area and San Diego, Calif.

tru Independence Launches $165M 44 North Capital 

tru Independence, a Portland, Ore.-based independent wealth management platform with about $10.5 billion in collective assets across 30 firms, announced its fifth partnership of 2023 with the launch of 44 North Capital in Burlington, Vt.—a team of three led by founder and Managing Partner Jonathan Landry.

44 North is the fourth new launch supported by tru in 2023, including Sykon Capital, Gainline Financial and Crossover Capital. Along with a partnership with $1 billion AUM Seven Mile Advisory, tru has added about $2.1 billion to its growing platform through the first three quarters of the year.

Calling the deal “another great example of our appeal to growth-centric advisors,” tru President and Chief Innovation Officer Amit Dogra said in a statement that that the 44 North team, led by founder and Managing Partner Jonathan Landry, felt tru’s “experience-as-a-service” platform offered the solutions they were looking for.

Dubbed truView, the platform combines financial technology with behavioral finance, backed by human resources, to provide a comprehensive client experience and drive growth.

"Launching 44 North marks the beginning of an exciting journey,” said Landry. “Having a partner like tru just as focused on the client experience as we are, makes us confident that we will be able to provide more services than before and a better overall experience for our clients.” 

Landry, who is a former NHL defenseman, left the Wheel Landry Group under Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, where he spent the last 11 years. He is joined in the move by Director of Financial Management and Planning Lexie Forest, a former colleague at Wheel Landry, and Senior Associate of Client Service Billie Crane.

Johnson Financial Group to Acquire The Appleton Group

Johnson Financial Group agreed to acquire The Appleton Group, an RIA with $210 million in AUM based in Appleton, Wisc., in a deal expected to close at the end of the month.

Founded in 2002 by Mark Scheffler, Appleton is expected to complement Johnson Financial's presence in Milwaukee, Madison and Appleton, Wisc., said Brian Andrew, president and CIO of Johnson Wealth, Johnson Financial’s subsidiary RIA.

First registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2003, Milwaukee-based Johnson Wealth has completed “several” acquisitions and manages around $9.5 billion in client assets. The firm continues to look for additional opportunities, according to an announcement.

Johnson Financial was founded as a bank in 1970 by Samuel C. Johnson, the fourth generation of his family to lead S.C. Johnson & Son, a multinational corporation based in Racine, Wisc., that makes chemical-based consumer goods. Today, the financial services company comprises the bank, RIA and an insurance business.

“We’re proud to become part of the largest independent RIA in the state,” said Scheffler. “Johnson Financial Group offers the investment products, technology and service our clients expect. In fact, our clients will experience a seamless transition as our planning and investment cultures greatly align.”

DeVoe and Company represented Johnson in the transaction.

Wells Fargo Advisor Joins LPL Employee Advisor Channel, Linsco

After 11 years with Wells Fargo, Aaron Cizon, a dually registered advisor in Greenville, S.C., joined LPL Financial as a W-2 employee under the firm’s employee advisor channel, Linsco.

Named for one of two firms that came together in 1989 to form Linsco Private Ledger, or LPL, the channel was established in 2019 to help wirehouse advisors pursue independence and acquire independent firms looking for liquidity or succession solutions.

Cizon, who handled around $175 million in assets at Wells Fargo, will anchor a new Linsco office in Greenville. He chose to join the company to enjoy “more freedom and flexibility,” according to an announcement.

“While Linsco advisors enjoy all the perks of being LPL employees, they are still emboldened with the autonomy to manage their practices on their own terms and put their clients’ best interests first,” said LPL EVP of Business Development Scott Posner.

LPL Financial provides an advisory and brokerage platform, as well as custodial services for more than 20,000 financial professionals, collectively overseeing more than $1 trillion for more than 4.5 million investors in the U.S. at the end of last year.

Kestra Investment Management Reaches $1B in AUM

A year after launching its first model portfolios, Kestra Investment Management, an RIA owned by Austin-based Kestra Holdings, has reached $1 billion in AUM.

Established in 2021, KIM has launched eight model portfolio series in addition to managing custom portfolios for high-net-worth individuals, all exclusively available to clients of financial professionals associated with all Kestra Holdings subsidiaries.

“We’re enthusiastic about the strong impact [Chief Investment Officer Kara Murphy] and her team have made in just under two years, evidenced by their rapid growth in AUM,” said Kestra Holdings CEO James Poer.

Kestra Holdings’ seven subsidiary companies collectively oversee about $111.3 billion in assets under administration across more than 2,300 independent financial professionals.

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