M and A

Summary Of North American M&A For September, October, November and December 2023

Editorial Staff January 8, 2024

Summary Of North American M&A For September, October, November and December 2023

A summary of M&A moves in the four months to the end of December last year. Familiar names such as Mercer were in the mix of deals.

Avantax, a US firm that concentrates on tax-focused wealth management and planning, brought an eight-person team into its embrace. The team, which runs more than $230 million of client money, is called Comprehensive Financial Services. The firm is located in California and led by Anna Luke and her husband Victor Luke. They transferred to Avantax from Independent Financial Group.

Cetera Holdings, the holding company of Cetera Financial Group, also completed its purchase of Avantax. Under the terms of the transaction, Cetera kept Avantax's legal entities, brand, core technology, product offerings and existing clearing and custody relationships. Avantax is now a privately held business.

Chicago-headquartered financial group Mesirow brought the RIA firm Front Barnett Associates under its umbrella. The business now runs as a distinct platform within the broader Mesirow Wealth Management offering. The financial terms were not disclosed. The acquired team goes to market as Front Barnett, A Mesirow Company. Front Barnett Associates was founded in 1994.

Johnson Financial Group
Johnson Financial Group bought a $210 million RIA in Wisconsin – The Appleton Group. The financial terms were not disclosed. DeVoe & Co, the investment bank and consulting firm serving the RIA industry, advised Johnson Group on the deal. Johnson Wealth is part of Johnson Financial Group, which is led by chairman, Helen Johnson Leipold, a member of the fifth generation of the Johnson family of companies.

44 North Capital
Vermont-based wirehouse breakaway firm 44 North Capital, overseeing $165 million of client money, allied with tru Independence. The 44 North Capital business is led by founder and managing partner Jonathan Landry, a former NHL defenseman.

NFP, a property and casualty broker, benefits consultant, wealth manager and retirement plan advisor acquired Divergent Wealth Advisors. Based in South Jordan, Utah, Divergent is an independent RIA. Divergent co-founders Jordan Collins and Brady Ririe joined NFP and report to Jeff Scott, senior vice president for retirement. The financial terms were not disclosed.

Wealthspire Advisors
Wealthspire Advisors, an independent registered investment advisor (RIA), signed an agreement to purchase GM Advisory Group, an RIA serving clients across the US. GMAG manages approximately $3 billion in assets, advises on an additional $3.3 billion in assets, and maintains a presence in Boca Raton, Florida, New York City, and Melville, New York. With this acquisition, the firm oversees approximately $24.4 billion in assets and add more than 40 professionals to its team.

The Wellington Group and TrustWealth Strategies merged, building a business with a combined $750 million in assets under management. The expanded entity is called Wellington Wealth Strategies. The firm is structured as an investment advisor regulated by the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Carson Group
Carson Group partnered with FAI Wealth Management, an advisory firm based in Columbia, Maryland. Founded in 1987, FAI manages $300 million in client assets nationwide. The team of seven continued to be led by managing director and wealth advisor, Mark Stinson, from the Columbia, Maryland office location. FAI rebranded to Carson Wealth. Alaris Acquisitions advised FAI on the deal.

Coldstream Wealth Management
Coldstream Wealth Management merged with Seidman Capital Group, a wealth management firm, and Hersman Serles Almond, an accounting and consulting services firm. The move continued Coldstream’s build-out of its Pacific northwest footprint. 

Safra New York Corporation, which is the holding company of Safra National Bank of New York, wrapped up its purchase of Delta North Bankcorp, including its subsidiary Delta National Bank and Trust Company. Delta provides private banking and wealth management services to high net worth clients through its offices in New York and Miami. The financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction was originally announced in late November 2022.

Robertson Stephens
Robertson Stephens Wealth Management expanded in the San Francisco Bay Area by welcoming Lifeguard Wealth, a California registered investment advisor managing over $100 million in advisory assets. The addition took the firm’s total assets under management to $4.6 billion, it said in a statement earlier this week. Also, this took its footprint to 19 teams with 81 employees in 17 locations across the US. 

abrdn, HighVista
The US subsidiary of UK-listed abrdn – the business formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen – completed the management transfer of about $4 billion in assets under management and 30 employees to HighVista Strategies.

Fintech firm Pontera, which focuses on the retirement space, partnered with Savant Wealth Management, a RIA. Using Pontera, Savant’s affiliated advisors serve clients and oversee their wealth, including more than $300 million in outside assets.

Genstar Capital
Genstar Capital, the private equity house, reinvested into Cetera Financial Group, the US financial advisor “wealth hub.” The new investment was led by Genstar’s newest fund, Fund XI, with additional capital from Fund X. The financial size of the investment was not disclosed. Genstar originally invested in Cetera in 2018.

Avantax, a tax-focused financial planning and wealth management firm, welcomed Bob Ervolina from Lifetime Wealth Management Group and returning advisor Aaron Watson, and his South Carolina-based accounting firm partner Lee MacBay Hamilton & Associates. Lifetime Wealth Management Group, a 15-year-old firm based in Buffalo, New York, is led by veteran advisor Bob Ervolina, JD, certified wealth strategist, who transferred to Avantax from Securities America, a broker-dealer of Osaic (formerly Advisor Group).

Wealth Enhancement Group
Wealth Enhancement Group, which oversees more than $70.5 billion of client assets, acquired KCS Wealth Advisory, an independent RIA based in Los Angeles. The move added another office location to the Los Angeles area and boosted the number of Wealth Enhancement Group offices in the state of California to 17. The team brought about $373 million in assets under management.

Mercer Global Advisors
The firm bought Kingfisher Capital, a business looking after about $630 million of client money. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The wealth management firm, KC, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, was founded by Alexander B Miles and H K Hallett in 1989.

Charlesbank Capital Partners, the investment bank operating in Boston and New York, invested into Petra Funds Group, the fund administrator focused on private investment firms. The Petra founders and management team remained significant shareholders alongside Charlesbank. The financial terms were not disclosed. Founded in 2021, Petra offers fund administration and related middle and back-office services to private equity and private debt managers totaling more than $110 billion of assets under administration. 

Modern Wealth
Modern Wealth Management, the US RIA firm, bought Indianapolis-based Martin James Investment & Tax Management. The acquired group provides tax, wealth management and planning services, catering to more than 400 families, individuals, and business owners. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Martin James was established in 1986.

Denver-headquartered Mercer Global Advisors bought Singh Advisory, a wealth management firm located in Denver, Colorado. Singh Advisory, which was founded by Parshad K Singh, CFP®, CIMA® in 2018, had assets under management of about $60 million at the time the deal was announced.

Mercer also acquired Paragon Wealth Strategies. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Paragon is a wealth management firm located in Jacksonville, Florida. The firm, which was founded by Jonathan Castle and Michelle Ash, managing partners, in 2008, has assets under management of $495 million. 

Separately, Mercer bought Middleton Financial Management, doing business as Brighton Financial Planning. Brighton operates in New Jersey and South Carolina and was founded by John P Middleton. The firm has AuM of about $90 million. The terms of the financial transactions were not disclosed.

Boston-based Choate brought a team of professionals at Lowell Blake & Associates to its wealth management organization. Also a Bostonian firm, LBA was founded more than 45 years ago.

ZEDRA, a global specialist in corporate and global expansion, active wealth, pensions and incentives services, and fund solutions, bought LJ Fiduciary and Alvarium Private Office with offices in the Isle of Man, Geneva and the UK. The business was acquired from AITi Tiedemann Global, the multi-family office group recently created from a transatlantic merger. The financial terms were not disclosed.

Minneapolis-based Nepsis, a US financial advisor and investment management firm, acquired tax, accounting and consulting firm Sevenich, Butler, Gerlach & Brazil (SBGB). SBGB was incorporated into the Nepsis brand and augments the Nepsis Family Office Framework.

Edelman Financial Engines
Edelman Financial Engines, the US wealth planning and workplace investment firm which manages more than $245 billion in assets, bought PRW Wealth Management, an RIA, adding to a run of acquisitions. The financial terms were not disclosed. Headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, PRW manages over $500 million in assets under management for around 200 clients, including individuals.

Creative Planning
US-based RIA Creative Planning bought Daniels + Tansey, a firm based in Delaware with $245 billion of assets under management. D+T provides financial advisory, tax services, and investment management for individuals, families, and small businesses.

Creative Planning, which operates across all 50 states of the US and 65 nations, is one of the biggest hitters in the RIA space. DeVoe & Company, the M&A consulting company serving the RIA industry, advised D+T about the transaction.

Yieldstreet, the US private market investment platform interviewed by this news service in April, unveiled a definitive agreement to acquire Cadre, an online, real-estate-focused investment platform. Cadre serves institutional and high net worth investors. The financial terms, subject to regulatory review, were not disclosed.

Summit Financial
US group Summit Financial Holdings made a “strategic investment” into an RIA, Prostatis Financial Advisors Group. The stake – undertaken via Summit Growth Partners – a subsidiary, is a minority non-controlling stake. Its financial size was not disclosed. It mixes upfront cash monetization with equity participation and exclusive partnership privileges. Prostatis has more than $310 million of assets under management.

Oakeson Steiner
Nebraska-based Oakeson Steiner Wealth & Retirement joined the Carson Group, tapping into the latter’s network of 150 advisory firms. Led by president and wealth advisor, Josh Yost, Oakeson Steiner manages $1.2 billion in client assets and has a team of 13 wealth advisors and client services staff. It was founded in 1994.

Eisner Amper
Global business advisory firm EisnerAmper acquired tax, and business consulting firm Hughes Pittman & Gupton. The deal was expected to be finished by the spring of this year. In a separate transaction, HPG’s wealth management practice, HPG Wealthcare Advisors, will transition to Prosperity, an EisnerAmper Company, later in 2024. 

Polen Capital
US-based Polen Capital took over the funds of UK-based Somerset Capital Management, which was set to wind down after suffering large redemptions and the loss of its biggest client, UK wealth manager St James Place. Polen, which has had an emerging market offering since 2019, assumed responsibility for the London-based suite of equity funds, subject to regulatory approval.

MSCI, the provider of financial market data and benchmarks for investors, agreed to buy Fabric, a US-based tech platform specializing in portfolio design, customization, and analytics for wealth managers and advisors. Fabric, which has offices in New York City, and Boulder, Colorado, was founded in 2019. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and the financial impact of the transaction is not expected to be material to MSCI.

Atria Wealth Solutions, a multi-channel wealth management solution holding company, added Gaschen, Berlingeri & Casebolt, to Atria subsidiary Cadaret Grant. Previously with Cetera Advisors and Edward Jones, the Lubbock, Texas-based team oversees over $175 million in client assets.

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