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RIA Roundup: Rockefeller Snags 26 from Merrill Lynch

Featured in Pt. 1 of this week’s roundup: Rockefeller Global Family Office, MAI Capital Management, The AmeriFlex Group and Private Advisor Group.

In the first of a two-part roundup this week, Rockefeller captured a $5 billion Merrill Lynch team, MAI added more than $500 million in its 3rd deal this year, The AmeriFlex Group scored a team of seven from Commonwealth and Private Advisor Group added a $100 million trio from the recently rebranded Axtella. reported earlier this week that Summit attracted a team of five to its equity partnership platform; Merrill lost six to Dynasty-supported independence; Captrust picked up nine in Houston; and Karl Heckenberg’s new RIA investment vehicle unveiled its second and third portfolio firms—Perigon Wealth Management and Lido Advisors.

In other related news, Echelon Partners reported that M&A activity in the RIA space dropped in 2023 for the first time in 12 years, a trend that seems to have reversed in the second half of the year and into 2024, which has seen a flurry of announcements in just three weeks.


On Track to Hit Growth Targets Early, Rockefeller Snags 26 from Merrill Lynch

Rockefeller Global Family Office, the wealth management division of Rockefeller Capital Management, has recruited a team of 26 from Merrill Lynch to join its regional division in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Now operating as Axiom Wealth Partners, the team is led by Managing Directors Jeffrey Towner, David Lund, Brett Howell and Craig Sharp. Together, they spent a collective century with Merrill, managing $5.1 billion in 2023.

Supported by a 6-person leadership team, they will report to Brett Thelander, director of Rockefeller GFO’s Northern Division.

Rockefeller Capital Management began as the family office of John D. Rockefeller in 1882 and was restructured as an independent advisory firm in 2018 by CEO Greg Fleming and Andreas Halvorson’s Viking Global Investors fund.

The company includes Rockefeller Global Family Office and Rockefeller Asset Management—both of which operate under the Rockefeller & Co. RIA—and a hybrid firm registered under Rockefeller Financial, as well as trust, insurance and investment banking businesses.

In mid-2022, CEO Greg Fleming indicated plans to increase assets from $90 billion to $200 billion, double advisor headcount to around 500 and establish at least 45 locations—within three to five years.

Today, the firm oversees a collective $112 billion across 51 U.S. locations and a London office. Rockefeller reported in June that it had 405 financial advisors serving 22,328 clients under Rockefeller Financial’s ADV, which accounted for $34.7 billion in regulatory assets; in November, the firm reported 122 advisors under the Rockefeller & Co. banner, serving 2,632 clients with $22.7 billion in managed assets.

Early last year, Rockefeller received a $622 million minority investment from the ultra-wealthy Desmarais family in Canada, which has historical ties to the Rockefellers—in a deal that valued the firm at $3 billion. The firm remains majority owned by Viking, with a Rockefeller family trust and various members of the family and the firm’s management team holding minority stakes. 

MAI Buys California RIA in 3rd Deal of Year

Traverso Chambers Private Wealth Management in Santa Rosa, Calif., an hour north of the Bay Area, has become the third acquisition announced by MAI Capital Management since the beginning of the year.

Founded in 2009, Traverso was founded by Marc Traverso and Tim Chambers, both of whom are taking on the role of regional president at MAI. They are joined by a team of four that includes two other advisors, together managing close to $550 million for more than 360 individual clients and a dozen institutional investors.

“By joining MAI, we are able to expand our capabilities into new and complementary areas, including alternative investments,” Chambers said in a statement. “This partnership also allows us to retain a degree of autonomy in terms of how we service clients and give back to our local community in and around Santa Rosa.”

Effective on Jan. 12, the transaction represents MAI’s 34th since 2018. Overseeing $18.8 billion at the end of last year, the firm has since announced deals representing more than $2 billion in client assets. MAI has been majority owned by Galway Holdings since 2021.

AmeriFlex Scores Seven from Commonwealth Financial Network

Las Vegas-based The AmeriFlex Group, a hybrid registered investment advisory firm, broker/dealer and office of supervisory jurisdiction affiliated with Osaic, has attracted a team of seven from Commonwealth Financial Network to its platform of affiliated RIAs.

Led by President Bob Bleier, the team previously operated as Montage Wealth Management on the Commonwealth platform, where they oversaw about $258 million in client assets. They include Breier and four other advisors, a director of client services and a client relationship manager.

With two locations in New York’s Rochester area, the team has adopted a new name in the move—The Platinum Wealth Group.

 “We were looking for a partner that would continue to improve processes,” Bleier said in a statement.

“This partnership not only adds depth to the services I offer but also opens doors to new opportunities,” added Lisa Capizzi, a Platinum wealth advisor and longtime CPA with a separate tax practice in Rochester.

The team has joined TAG via a standard affiliation model, bringing the growing platform to 158 advisors overseeing more than $9.5 billion.

The announcement comes on the heels of a banner year for The AmeriFlex Group, which added 60 advisors and $2.7 billion in recruited assets in 2023. The firm also debuted a new service model aimed at supporting smaller OSJs with resources and expertise, as well as an option to sell to TAG and gain equity in the RIA.  

Private Advisor Group Attracts Sigma Trio

Private Advisor Group, a Morristown, N.J.-based RIA and office of supervisory jurisdiction with LPL Financial, has added a Detroit firm to its platform of affiliated partners.

Drake Financial Services is led by Bob Drake, who took over the practice from his father 33 years ago. Along with a relationship manager and client service associate, the team utilizes a proprietary process to provide financial planning and portfolio management, as well advice around taxes and estate planning, for clients with more than $100 million in invested assets.

They made the move from Sigma Financial, which has rebranded as Axtella and manages about $6 billion under its RIA, in 2023 after 33 years to take advantage of PAG’s advisor community, technology platform, services and succession solutions, according to an announcement. This includes an equity partnership program for independent firms offered in collaboration with Merchant Investment Management.

Managing $28.5 billion in assets for more than 112,000 households and close to 2,500 institutional investors, PAG comprises more than 750 independent advisors and lists more than 300 firms on its ADV.

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