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United Capital Tightens Its Filter With Latest Deal

United Capital Financial Advisers announced its first deal since the launch of FinLife Partners last month, a white-labeled version of its software package. The firm has acquired HFI Wealth Management, a Shepherdstown, W.Va.– and Winchester, Va.–based advisory practice with about $332 million in client assets.

While United Capital will continue to do acquisitions, the latest transaction shows how selective the firm is getting with the type of RIAs it brings on.

“As the FinLife technology platform takes off, we’re going to tighten the filter even further around acquisitions,” said Matt Brinker, Head of National Partner Development at United Capital. “We’ve always been selective, but I think our selectivity is going to go up a couple notches.”

Brinker says the firm is going to look more closely at geography; United Capital wants to partner with firms located in markets where there are opportunities for growth, sub-acquisitions and the ability to attract next-generation talent.

The firm is also going to be more selective in terms of partnering with RIAs that focus on growing their practice.  

“[The HFI team] is focused on their clients, they’re focused on growth, they are willing to partner and they see the landscape shifting in a way where digitized client experience and how they’re personally spending their time becomes mission-critical to be able to be relevant over the next five, 10, 15, 20 years in our space,” Brinker said.

HFI is located about an hour outside of Washington, D.C., in a community that’s growing, Brinker said. Both locations are close to universities, including Shenandoah University, a small liberal arts college, and Shepherd University.

United Capital launched its white-label advisor technology package last month. The product takes pressure off of United Capital to continue its strategy of growth through acquisitions, and also moves the RIA toward a new role as technology vendor.

“If you’re simply a roll-up, transactions are your mechanic to growth—the main thrust of your strategy,” Brinker said. “As financial life management is getting the traction that it’s getting for our existing and current shareholders, it’s just a smarter way to grow United Capital.”

The firm will create a partner path for a select group of advisors who use the technology platform.

“Whether or not it increases the overall volume of deals we do—undetermined,” Brinker added.

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