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RIA Roundup: Savant Wealth Makes Largest Acquisition in History With $3.3B Capital Directions

Savant announced the largest acquisition in its history this week, while Snowden Lane established a 13th office, Sanctuary added a team from Merrill Lynch, DayMark added a team from Wells Fargo, Focus facilitated two tuck-ins, and Mariner, EP Wealth and Exencial all added firms with hundreds of millions in AUM.

Savant Wealth Makes Largest Acquisition in History With $3.3B Capital Directions

Savant Wealth Management, a rapidly growing, employee-owned registered investment advisor based in Rockford, Ill., announced this week that it had acquired Capital Directions, an Atlanta-based RIA serving households, pensions and corporations.

Capital Directions also offers a turnkey asset management platform to CPAs that includes CIO and portfolio management; back-office administration; technology; practice management resources and training; and professional prospecting assistance.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is the largest acquisition Savant has made since its founding in 1986.

With approximately 25 employees and $3.3 billion in client assets, Capital Directions is Savant’s first acquisition of 2023. The deal extends the firm’s national presence to 10 states and 26 offices and brings Savant to around $18 billion in total client assets.

“Capital Directions presented us with a unique opportunity to not only serve traditional wealth management clients, but also to help other financial advisory firms and CPA firms offer best-in-class services to their clients, supporting our vision of improving a million lives,” Savant CEO Brent Brodeski said in a statement. “We will also benefit from Capital Directions’ Retirement Plan Services program, which will help strengthen Savant’s differentiated offering in that area.”

“We have been successful growing our business and could have chosen to stay the course,” said Capital Directions CEO Dennis Covington. “However, by partnering with Savant, we can enhance the client experience, expand opportunities for our team including equity opportunities, and grow faster all while remaining independent.

“In addition,” he added, “by combining Capital Directions’ and Savant’s TAMP and retirement plan businesses, it will create scale benefits and enhance the capabilities we offer clients.”

Members of Capital Directions’ ownership team include Covington, Managing Director Terry Hartigan, CIO John McMillen and Director of Financial Planning Richard O’Donnell. Each have become equity owners in Savant, along with Relationship Manager Michael Bork and Wealth Advisor Miriam Falaki.

Savant Wealth Management has served clients for more than three decades and oversees approximately $14 billion in assets as of the end of 2022.


Snowden Lane Establishes 13th Office With Morgan Stanley Acquisition

Snowden Lane Partners, an advisor-owned hybrid RIA based in New York, announced that The Upland Group has joined the firm from Morgan Stanley. The team operates out of a new office in Lebanon, N.H.—creating Snowden’s 13th location in the U.S.

Comprising industry veterans Stephen Bartholow, Coe Kerr and Stephanie Young, the former Morgan Stanley team oversees $212 million in client assets. Bartholow and Kerr are both joining Steward as managing directors and will serve as senior partner and partner, respectively. Young will take on the role of senior registered client relationship manager.

“I’m looking forward to writing the next chapter of The Upland Group at Snowden Lane and am especially excited to continue working alongside Coe and Stephanie,” Bartholow said in a statement. “Snowden Lane’s reputation across the wealth management industry made the firm a natural fit for our team, as we’ve always valued the flexibility to create comprehensive, personalized portfolio management strategies that can best serve each of our domestic and international clients’ individual needs.”

The Upland Group is the first team to join Snowden in 2023, following two years that saw the firm add 23 advisors and $3.9 billion in total client assets. With more than 75 years of combined financial services experience, The Upland Group specializes in estate, retirement and wealth planning for high-net-worth clients, with a focus on multigenerational portfolio management.

“Our firm has always envisioned expanding our national footprint into New England and The Upland Group is the perfect team to represent Snowden Lane in New Hampshire,” said Snowden CEO Rob Mooney.

Bartholow and Kerr co-founded The Upland Group at Morgan Stanley 13 years ago, sharing the roles of portfolio manager, financial advisor and investment strategist. Both have previous experience in investment with Carret Asset Management and in a wide variety of other roles.

Young served as a portfolio associate and financial planning associate at Morgan Stanley for more than a decade, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of The Upland Group and managed client account maintenance, sourcing new client relationships and operational procedures.

“I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a long career that has run the gamut of financial services, and Snowden Lane’s approach stood out as our team evaluated the next phase of our business,” said Kerr. “The firm has grown tremendously over the last few years, and I’m humbled that we can play a part in opening Snowden Lane’s latest office location while continuing to serve the community we’ve grown so fond of.”

“I have a true appreciation for the personal attention Stephen, Coe and Stephanie give to each of their clients, and their approach fits seamlessly into the culture we’ve built at Snowden Lane,” said Snowden Lane President and COO Greg Franks.

Snowden secured an expanded $50 million credit facility from Orix Corp. last June, enabling further recruitment efforts. The firm currently oversees more $4.6 billion in clients assets, according to its most recent ADV filing.

Since its founding in 2011, Snowden Lane has attracted talent from Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JP Morgan, Raymond James, Wells Fargo and Fieldpoint Private, among others.

The firm employs 135 total professionals, 74 of whom are financial advisors, across 13 offices around the country in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, New York and, now, New Hampshire.


Sanctuary Wealth Welcomes New Partner Firm Chappell Wealth Management

Sanctuary Wealth announced this week that Chappell Wealth Management is the latest partner firm to join the platform from Merrill Lynch.

Based in The Woodlands, Texas, Chappell’s seven-person team is led by Brent Chappell, Brad Chappell, Michael Mills and Spencer Carlson. With around $1.5 billion in assets under management, Chappell is the largest producing wirehouse breakaway team to join Sanctuary since the firm's launch in 2018, according to Friday’s announcement, and represents its 17th partner in Texas.

"I've known Brent and Brad Chappell for many years from our days together at Merrill in Texas and hold them in the highest regard,” said Sanctuary President Vince Fertita. “They have an outstanding business, reflecting their well-earned reputation for integrity, work ethic, and devotion to clients.”

Both Chappells graduated from the University of Texas and spent a collective 36 years with Merrill Lynch before deciding to launch on the Sanctuary platform.

"When we saw that by partnering with Sanctuary, we would have a choice of custodians with all the freedom and flexibility of best-in-class resources, wrapped up in a structure that largely eliminates conflicts of interest, we just knew this was the right place for us," founder and Managing Partner Brent Chappell said, in a statement.

"By partnering with Sanctuary, we see real opportunities to grow our business that weren't available to us previously and wouldn't exist in a lateral move to another wirehouse," added Brad Chappell. "As we did our due diligence, it became obvious that Sanctuary was the perfect fit. On top of that, they are willing to build the custom resources we need for our business. It's a partnership we're really excited about for the future."

The rest of the Chappell team includes Chel Larkin, Jaymie Wendt, and Brianna Warren.

"The deep and extensive roots that our leadership team has across the wirehouse segment continue to position our firm as the destination of choice for wirehouse breakaway advisors," said Sanctuary CEO Adam Malamed. "With access to Sanctuary's open architecture platform, cutting-edge technology, and comprehensive support, Chappell Wealth Management is poised for significant future success. Equally important, Chappell Wealth Management's decision to align with Sanctuary reflects the broader strength of our pipeline and robust growth prospects throughout this year and beyond."

The Sanctuary Wealth network currently includes partner firms in 28 states across the country with around $25 billion in assets under advisement.


DayMark Wealth Partners Adds $450 Million Team From Wells Fargo

DayMark Wealth Partners has announced that Jacob Krecic, Justin Fitchko and Martin Hopkins will be joining the firm from Wells Fargo.

The team will operate from DayMark’s newest office locations in Westlake and Pepper Pike, Ohio. Krecic and Fitchko will be managing partners under the DayMark brand, and Hopkins will take on the role of senior managing partner.

They are accompanied by Kristine Cameron, Stephanie Gordon, and Justin Michlovic—all joining as directors of client relations.

Previously, Krecic, Fitchko, and Hopkins led the Krecic Fitchko Wealth Management Team at Wells Fargo. With more than 73 years of combined industry experience, they decided to join DayMark to provide more personalized services, independent advice and customized solutions to meet their clients’ unique needs.

"The wealth management landscape has changed considerably over the last several years," Krecic said in a statement. "Clients demand objective advice and counsel, untethered from banking/financial institutions who commonly have their own self-interests shaping their views and driving their recommendations.”

“We knew upon DayMark’s launch in June 2022 that this would be a fast-growing organization,” said Shirl Penney, CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, the RIA platform that supported the launch.

“Joining forces with a perennial industry leader that formed DayMark Wealth Partners allows us to be truly independent with only the best interests of our clients at play. In addition, being supported by a best-in-class resource partner, Dynasty, our clients are ensured to receive cutting-edge service —a distinct competitive advantage,” said Fitchko.

DayMark Wealth Partners is based in Cincinnati, with around $2 billion in assets under management today. Dynasty acted as financial advisor to DayMark on the transaction.


Focus Financial Announces Two Tuck-In Acquisitions

National RIA aggregator Focus Financial Partners announced this week that it has facilitated tuck-in acquisitions for two partner firms.

Cortina Business Management, a multifamily office and business manager in Needham, Mass., will join Focus partner firm Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, a multifamily office and business management firm headquartered in Los Angeles. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, subject to customary conditions.

Cortina was founded in 2002 by Rose Cortina and provides family office and business management services to actors, entertainers, musicians and business executives. The merger will provide the team with additional resources and infrastructure to enhance client services, according to the announcement, while broadening Gelfand’s client base and expanding its geographic footprint in the nation’s Northeast.

"Rose has built a tremendous business over the years. The client-first service philosophy that she and her talented team embrace will pair well with GR&F's service model," Gelfand CEO Tyson Beem said, in a statement.

With additional offices in New York City, Nashville, Tenn. and London, GR&F offers a range of business management services and tax services customized to suit the financial needs of entertainers, athletes, executives and high-net-worth individuals.

Additionally, Focus partner firm GYL Financial Synergies will acquire Hotaling Investment Management, a Wayne, Pa.-based firm with $353 million in assets.

Headquartered in West Hartford, Conn., GYL has additional offices in Westport, Conn., and Parsippany, N.J. With more than $5 billion in client assets, the firm provides financial planning and investment management advice for HNW individuals, families, institutions, foundations and endowments in 38 states.

Founded in 2012, Hotaling provides personalized financial guidance and investment management to HNW individuals and families, with niche focuses on serving women business leaders and professional cyclists.

This transaction will allow Hotaling clients to benefit from GYL's operational scale, according to the announcement, while GYL benefits from the added experience and expanded client roster in the Philadelphia area.

"We recognized a compelling opportunity through combining forces with GYL," Hotaling’s founder and managing partner, Bruce Hotaling, said in a statement. "We are in complete alignment with our client service models and our goals for the future, and we are confident that this merger will create room for growth while preserving our firm's legacy.

Once the transaction closes, expected in the second quarter of 2023, GYL's institutional and private client services in all four locations will move forward together under the GYL brand.

"Hotaling is a well-respected provider of wealth management services, not only to the Philadelphia market but throughout the country,” said GYL CEO Gerald Goldberg. “We are thrilled to have the Hotaling team on board and to discover how we can better serve our clients through working together."


Mariner Wealth Advisors to Acquire Walker Wealth

Mariner Wealth Advisors has announced that Fullerton, Calif.-based Walker Wealth will be joining the company on March 1. The deal establishes Mariner’s 14th location in California and represents its 12th acquisition in as many months.

“Mariner Wealth Advisors continues to grow through strategic acquisitions of like-minded firms that share a passion and commitment to offering clients diversified wealth management services,” Mariner CEO Marty Bicknell said, in a statement. “Adding a firm of Walker Wealth’s caliber bolsters our presence in California and deepens our bench of professionals with an expertise of serving clients in the medical community.” 

Founded by W. Craig Walker in 1997, the eponymous firm serves more than 170 clients with $301 million in assets under advisement. A team of four associates provides cash flow management, retirement and estate planning and investment consulting to a range of clients. With a niche focus on medical professionals, Walker strives to provide concierge-level services allowing those clients to “prioritize their patient care without concern over their finances.”

“Joining Mariner Wealth Advisors will broaden our client service capabilities and enable us to offer more diversified wealth management solutions for clients with a variety of needs,” said Walker. “I’m excited to dedicate even more time to serving our clientele with an even greater portfolio of services and offerings.”

Founded in 2006 with $300 million in client assets, Mariner and its affiliates now advise on more than $105 billion in assets.

Walker will become the 85th Mariner-branded office nationwide and retain its existing leadership team. Park Sutton Advisors guided the firm through the transaction process.


Exencial Wealth Advisors Acquires Shoreline Financial Advisors

Oklahoma City-based Exencial Wealth Advisors has announced a merger with Shoreline Financial Advisors, an RIA based in Guilford, Conn.

The Shoreline team is led by Brendan Smith, who dropped his broker’s license in 2019, and Patrick Smith, who has been a pure advisor since 2008. Between them, they have earned CFA, CPA and CFP certifications. They will transition $220 million in assets to Exencial, where both will serve as partners and senior wealth advisors.

“We were looking for a strategic partner with strong cultural alignment and Shoreline fit that bill perfectly,” said Exencial CEO John Burns. “Brendan and Patrick are driven by the same values we have held dear since our founding: integrity above all else and a dedication to providing enduring value to those they serve.”

The merger will give the Shoreline team access to Exencial’s expanded resources while allowing the firm to maintain a “small business feel,” according to Tuesday’s announcement.

“We felt an authentic connection to the team at Exencial from day one,” said Brendan Smith and Patrick Smith. “Not only will our clients continue to receive the same personalized service they have come to expect, but they will also benefit from an enhanced pool of resources as they plan their financial future.”

The addition of Shoreline is the latest in a series of moves by Exencial Wealth Advisors to expand its footprint. In 2020, the firm joined forces with Willingdon Wealth Management, a North Carolina-based RIA.

“Exencial is committed to quality expansion, providing succession plans for like-minded firms to ensure families can achieve their financial goals for generations to come,” Exencial’s head of M&A and corporate development, Shad Besikof, said in a statement. “We were truly impressed by the exemplary client service demonstrated by Patrick and Brendan and are confident Shoreline aligns with Exencial’s goal of strategic growth.”

Exencial has operated in Connecticut for 15 years, and Shoreline, which will maintain its Guilford office, will be the third location in the state.

As of September 2022, the firm oversees around $4.3 billion in client assets for more than 2200 households, 29 corporations, 13 pension or profit-sharing plans, and a handful of government, insurance and investment advisory concerns.


EP Wealth Advisors Grows in New England With Mass.-Based Resolute Financial

EP Wealth Advisors, an RIA “on a mission to provide clients with personalized service through integrated financial planning, investment management and tax and estate planning,” has announced a partnership with Resolute Financial.

Resolute has two offices in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire, and marks EP’s fourth East Coast partnership since September 2022. This brings the firm’s presence in the region to seven offices and marks the first acquisition of 2023—following on six in 2022.

Led by Chuck Johnson, Tom Dwyer and Bill Simpson, who will all join EP Wealth as senior wealth advisors, Resolute is focused on long-term financial planning and “maintaining a local boutique feel while offering resources on a national scale,” according to Wednesday’s announcement. They will be joined at EP by three additional staff members.

“As we considered our future plans, it was important that we continue to deliver the personal experience our clients have enjoyed,” Johnson said in a statement. “EP supports and embraces that personal approach, and the additional depth and breadth of resources will allow us to focus on and enhance our client services and broaden our reach.”

The firm expects to leverage EP’s planning, tax, estate, portfolio strategy, investment and technology resources to “set the stage for further growth in the region.”

“Chuck, Tom and Bill are much like our founders, Derek Holman and Brian Parker. They share a focus on delivering personal, purposeful plans that help their clients reach their financial goals,” said EP CEO Patrick Goshtigian. “Resolute is a welcome addition as we continue to expand our geographic footprint while providing exceptional local service and partnering with firms who closely align with our culture.”

EP Wealth has grown significantly over the past five years. The Resolute acquisition marks its 27th since taking a minority investment from Wealth Partners Capital Group in July 2017. The firm now has more than 30 offices in 11 states coast to coast and oversees more than $16.1 billion in client assets.

The acquisition of Resolute adds nearly $350 million in AUM and brings EP’s employee base to more than 340. Terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

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