RIA Roundup: Wealthspire Advisors to Acquire Heron Wealth in NYC

This week got off to a slow start for M&A in the RIA sector, but things picked up with multiple firms announcing sub-$500 million deals and three independent firms launching with support from Sanctuary, RFG Advisors and Kestra Private Wealth Services.

NFP, Mariner Wealth Advisors, Steward Partners Global Advisory, Wealth Enhancement Group and Credent Wealth Management all got in on the action, while Edelman Financial Engines, Angeles Wealth Management and Pitcairn announced key hires in support of continued growth.

In earlier news, J. Stern & Co. set up shop in New York City.

Wealthspire Advisors to Acquire Heron Wealth in NYC

Wealthspire Advisors, a subsidiary RIA under NFP’s Wealth & Retirement division, agreed to buy Heron Financial Group—dba Heron Wealth—a New York City-based firm that manages around $300 million in client assets. 

Founded by President David Edwards in 1996, Heron provides financial planning, investment advice and estate planning services to families.

Park Sutton Advisors, a boutique investment bank owned by Waller Helms Company, advised Heron on the transaction.

Park Sutton founder and Managing Partner Steven Levitt said Edwards prefers to focus on marketing and business development activities and viewed the partnership with Wealthspire as a way to offload business administration, while also benefitting from cross-selling opportunities available within the NFP ecosystem.

“David was an early adopter of search engine optimization and the growth that he’s experienced over the past several years since he began those efforts has been phenomenal,” said Don Schipf, a Park Sutton investment banking director who worked closely with Edwards.

“That was certainly attractive to Wealthspire,” he said. “And it’s right here in Midtown, so was a natural fit. It’s always great to add AUM on your home turf.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023.

With 19 offices in 10 states, Wealthspire currently oversees more than $18 billion in assets.

NFP Acquires David A. Marcus & Associates, Deerfield Financial Group

NFP announced it acquired David A. Marcus & Associates and Deerfield Financial Group, both owned by David Marcus.

Based in Deerfield, Ill., Marcus is an insurance broker and consultant providing a range of financial products and services to individuals and business owners. He will join NFP and report to Michael Schneider, president of NFP’s Central region. The acquisition closed in January.

A dually registered advisor previously affiliated with Kestra Financial, Marcus and his team provide retirement planning and wealth management services to corporate and individual clients, in addition to offering benefits planning and insurance solutions.

Madison Dearborn-backed NFP provides a range of financial services across three divisions: Property & Casualty; Benefits & Life; and Wealth & Retirement. Benefits & Life accounts for a little less than half of the company’s revenue—around $2 billion annually—while Property & Casualty make up a little more than a third. Wealth & Retirement oversees around $450 billion in client assets.

Mariner Wealth Advisors Buys Goldfinch Wealth Management

Mariner Wealth Advisors acquired Goldfinch Wealth Management in Greenville, S.C., establishing the firm’s first location in the Palmetto State.

“It brings me tremendous pride to say we now have locations in 34 states and are impacting more communities than I ever could have imagined,” Mariner CEO Marty Bicknell said in a statement. 

Goldfinch Wealth Management has approximately 225 clients with $221 million in assets under advisement. The firm provides tax, estate, retirement and legacy planning, asset management and trust services to individual clients. For business owners and other organizations, it offers fiduciary management and oversight, investment advisory, plan design, vendor search and participant services. 

“As a former Olympian, I have a firm understanding of the focus and dedication it takes to channel passion and drive it into world class results,” said Goldfinch Managing Partner Roy Janse, who represented Canada in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the tornado sailing event. “My team and I are incredibly excited by the opportunity to service our clients in such a strong and capable firm that is so well respected in the industry.” 

Founded 17 years ago with $300 million in AUA, Overland Park, Kan.-based Mariner has grown rapidly through an aggressive acquisition strategy and now oversees more than $100 billion in client assets.

Goldfinch assumed Mariner branding on March 17, becoming the firm’s 86th office nationwide. The South Carolina location, along with a team of seven associates, will continue to operate under Janse.

The deal represents Mariner’s fourth acquisition of the year, following two tax practices—Hopkins Tamaron Hostal in Arizona and another in Delaware named Hopkins & Associates—and a California RIA specializing in healthcare professionals. 

Prosper Wealth Advisors Joins Steward Partners Global Advisory

Cambridge Investment Research Advisors lost a four-person team with about $200 million in assets under management to Steward Partners Global Advisory, an employee-owned and privately backed hybrid RIA based in New York City.

Led by Managing Director Brad Chumley, the team has joined Steward in its Dallas office under an employee affiliation model.  

He is joined by Senior Wealth Management Associate Angela Gordon, Senior Client Administrative Manager Jeffrey Bopp and Client Administrative Manager Marshall Simmons. All are now partners in the firm.

“Changes in the industry and advances in technology” prompted Chumley to seek the change, according to Thursday’s announcement.

“We believe making this move is the best thing we could have done for our clients,” Chumley said in a statement. “We now have access to a comprehensive investment platform, with a range of solutions that are both broad and innovative.”

“We think this region is going to be a strong growth area for Steward Partners,” said Chris Barton, managing director and senior divisional president at Steward. “We have a robust pipeline in Texas and the surrounding states and expect to have numerous other team announcements in the coming months.”

Launched in 2013, Steward Partners now oversees $26 billion in client assets across all entities, including a hybrid investment arm and two SEC-registered subsidiaries.

Majority owned by employees, the firm is also backed by Cynosure Group and the Pritzker Organization. Last fall, Steward received a $140 million credit facility, led by Apogem Capital, to fuel continued growth.

Wealth Enhancement Group Expands to 11 Offices in Northern California

Wealth Enhancement Group announced the acquisition of Prozan Financial Services, a hybrid RIA based in Walnut Creek, Calif., with approximately $190 million in client assets.

Founded by Larry Prozan in 1988, the firm provides asset management, wealth management and financial planning, as well as retirement plan implementation and management, to wealthy and mass affluent pre-retirees and retirees.

The acquisition increases Wealth Enhancement Group’s footprint in Northern California, bringing the $62.8 billion firm to 11 offices in the region.

A hybrid RIA based in Plymouth, Minn., Wealth Enhancement Group was founded in 1997 and has expanded rapidly though organic growth and an aggressive acquisition strategy. The firm currently has 90 offices nationwide and serves more than 49,000 households.

Credent Wealth Management Announces 2 Mergers

Credent Wealth Management added two new partners and more than $125 million in assets following mergers with Miller Private Wealth and TruNorth Financial.

Miller Private Wealth, led by Tracy Miller, brings Credent to Oklahoma City and Mike Pepin’s TruNorth Financial expands the firm’s footprint in River Falls, Wisc.

“Many advisors spend their career building a firm they are proud of, only to watch it slip away when they retire,” Credent CEO Dan Hefty said in a statement. “The integrations of Mike and Tracy’s firms mark five successful mergers within an eight-month span for Credent Wealth Management. Credent’s partnership offer suits advisors like Tracy and Mike who are eager to maximize the value of their firm, feel confident about their eventual retirement, and transition with a flexible deal structure.”

Miller and her team joined Credent in early February. A CFP and chartered financial consultant with more than three decades of experience, she cited Credent’s centralized operations and team approach as primary reasons for making the transition, saying they ensure continuity of client service “indefinitely.”

Pepin joined Credent in mid-February. He is a certified wealth strategist and has served the River Falls community for more than 15 years. He cited Credent’s resources, infrastructure and proximity as primary reasons for joining the firm.

“Credent was very transparent about what was going to happen, what they were looking for, how a partnership would work,” Pepin said. “There was no ambiguity. Everyone was willing to answer my questions at any time. They were very careful about making sure that this was going to work for both of us.”

Both advisors were offered equity as part of the deal and have become partners in the 100% employee-owned firm.

Based in Auburn, Ind., Credent has 88 employees and 57 advisors managing around $2.1 billion in client assets across more than 8,000 client accounts in 34 states.

Former Allworth Advisor Launches Investa Financial Planning

Former Allworth advisor Andrew Kessler has left the $13 billion RIA after more than seven years to establish his own—Investa Financial Planning, in San Francisco’s Bay Area.

“Vesta is the Roman goddess of home and hearth,” Kessler explained in a video launch announcement on YouTube. “We see planning for your home and being comfortable in retirement as a big part of financial planning. And, obviously, investments are a big part of that as well, so we threw the IN in there and there you go.”

Kessler launched his firm with RFG Advisory, a platform for advisors establishing independent RIAs. Founded in 2003, RFG currently has 35 partner firms overseeing nearly $3 billion in client assets, according to a Form ADV filed this month.  

In 2022, RFG won the Wealth Management Industry Award for best non-custodial RIA support platform.

According to Tuesday’s announcement, Investa is focused on goals-based investing and providing “realistic advice.” Kessler made the move to have “the freedom to create a client experience tailored to his client’s needs utilizing the tools and resources RFG Advisory integrated into their platform.”

“I have always valued entrepreneurship and independence,” Kessler said in a statement. “I watched my father build his business from the ground up. Independence offers the opportunity to create an experience for my clients that aligns with their values, goals, and needs. It’s a dream come true.”

Former Morgan Stanley Advisor Launches Iterhic Wealth Advisors

Former Morgan Stanley advisor Matt Terwilliger has left The Edwards Group in Columbus, Ohio, to launch his own independent firm on the Sanctuary platform—Iterhic Wealth Advisors.

Terwilliger, along with another Edwards Group breakaway, bring $170 million in client assets with them and are focused on planning strategies for first-generation business owners, executives with significant equity and deferred compensation, and professional athletes.

“Matt is exactly the type of next generation advisor our industry needs,” Vince Fertitta, Sanctuary’s president of wealth management, said in a statement. “We … look forward to providing them with the services, support and resources they need to scale their business and achieve their ambitious growth goals.”

The name Iterhic has its roots in Latin and means “journey to here,” reflecting the firm’s identification of a specific client segment: “professionally successful clients who have pressing priorities beyond retirement planning.”

With most of its clients between 30 and 50 years old, Iterhic is focused on financial planning for clients dealing with life events that take place before retirement, such as college planning and caring for elder parents.

Iterhic is the third wirehouse breakaway firm from Ohio to join Sanctuary in 2023. Terwilliger said he chose the hybrid RIA platform after talking with several other partner firms who had already made the transition.

“Sanctuary understands what the next generation of advisors are looking for to serve their clients and have built their platform around those needs,” Terwilliger said in a statement. “I’m excited to start the next chapter of my career as an independent advisor with a firm that thoroughly understands and fully embraces the unique needs of wirehouse advisors going independent.” 

“Matt has a unique and sophisticated business,” said Sanctuary CEO Adam Malamed. “He is looking to grow his practice by bringing on both younger advisors eager to build their careers in an independent model and older advisors looking for a succession plan that lets them transition out of the business on their own terms.”

The Sanctuary Wealth network currently includes partner firms in 28 states overseeing around $25 billion in client assets across multiple entities.

UBS SVP Leaves to Launch Affidaré Private Wealth Management on Kestra Platform

After a dozen years in UBS’ wealth management unit, John Perillo has left his position as senior vice president to establish Affidaré Private Wealth Management on the Kestra Private Wealth Services platform.

Kestra PWS is a hybrid RIA subsidiary of Kestra Financial.

Located in Auburn Hills, Mich., Affidaré specializes in financial planning for wealthy individuals, families and retired executives. The firm is currently overseeing $150 million in assets for 25 families.

Perillo began his career at Goldman Sachs’ The Ayco Company, where he provided financial planning, estate planning and income tax planning services to corporate executives for 18 years. After 12 years with UBS, Perillo left to “further his goals of developing genuine client relationships and leveraging technology, resources, and expertise to expand his capabilities and growth opportunities,” according to Thursday’s announcement.

Perillo chose the name Affidaré because it means “to entrust” in Italian.

“After spending 30 years building trust through meaningful relationships, independence felt like a natural transition for me and the clients I serve,” he said in a statement.

Perillo will leverage Kestra PWS’ full-service support model offering clients an enhanced experience.

Affidaré is Kestra PWS’ third firm in the Detroit metro area. The platform oversees approximately $4.2 billion across more than 11,500 client accounts, according to a Form ADV filed this month.

Edelman Financial Engines Appoints New Chief Investment Officer

Edelman Financial Engines announced Neil Gilfedder as its new executive vice president and chief investment officer.

Gilfedder succeeds Christopher Jones, who has served as CIO since 2001. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Gilfedder will report to CEO Larry Raffone and lead the firm’s investment committee.

The transition was announced as part of a succession plan meant to build on the firm’s notable growth. Jones has been with Financial Engines—which was merged with Edelman in 2018—since the firm launched in 1996 with zero assets.

By 2018, Financial Engines was overseeing $169 billion in client assets. Today, the combined firm claims more than $242 billion across more than 1.3 million clients.

Jones will remain with the firm as a “special advisor.”

“Chris Jones and our co-founder and Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe created a strong foundation for our investment methodology that has helped countless families achieve their financial objectives for nearly three decades, and Neil will now take our investment management expertise into our next phase of growth,” Raffone said in a statement.

Gilfedder served as the firm’s senior vice president of portfolio management for nine years before moving into his new role on March 1.

“I have been very fortunate to work alongside great innovators during my career, and I am excited for this opportunity to build upon such a special legacy,” said Gilfedder. “I am honored to be charged with this responsibility.”

Before joining Edelman in 2014, Gilfedder spent almost seven years as managing director at MSCI, where he headed up research. A CFA charter holder, Gilfedder holds a master’s in economics from Stanford University.

Angeles Wealth Management Taps Edward Lowndes to Lead Compliance and Operations

Angeles Wealth Management, an RIA serving generationally wealthy families with around $1 billion in assets under management, hired Edward Lowndes to lead operations and compliance for the firm.  

Working out of Angeles’ headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., Lowndes will oversee compliance protocols and ongoing development of a wealth management platform developed to service ultra-high-net-worth families, trusts, estates and related philanthropic entities. 

“Ed will play a pivotal role in helping us scale the firm, building on our existing strong trajectory to further expand private wealth services, including trust and estate solutions, for the families we serve,” Angeles Wealth CEO Jonathan Foster said in a statement.

Founded in 2011, Angeles Wealth serves private clients alongside parent firm Angeles Investment Advisors, which advises on $36 billion in assets for endowments, foundations and institutions.

Lowndes has been charged with optimizing the firm’s operational infrastructure to support continued growth, “including the ongoing buildout of its personalized discretionary portfolio and private wealth platform.” 

Previously, Lowndes was chief operating officer for the private wealth management affiliate of First Foundation Bank. He has also held operations and risk management roles at Brandes Investment Partners, BNY Mellon | Lockwood, The Vanguard Group and Prudential Securities.  

In the last year, Angeles Wealth has announced the hires of Senior Managing Director Ann Deaton, who opened the firm’s Houston office, and Managing Director of Capital Markets and Wealth Advisory Morris Clothier.

In addition to Santa Monica, the firm has offices in New York City, Chicago and Houston. 

Pitcairn Hires Alts Expert to Lead Firm Strategy 

Pitcairn, a multi-family office serving ultra-high-net-worth clients with $7 billion in assets under management, hired Robert Mileff to build out an alternative investment platform at the century-old firm.

A chartered alternative investment analyst with experience in wealth management and investment technology, Mileff reports to Chief Investment Officer Nathan Sonnenberg in his new role as managing director of alternative investments.

Pitcairn’s alternative investing solutions will consist of liquid and illiquid strategies, according to the announcement, including hedge fund and private investment opportunities.

Mileff, who will sit on the firm’s investment and due diligence committees, is also charged with educating Pitcairn Family Office staff, clients and prospects regarding alternative investing.  

Previously, he held alternative investment leadership roles at Fortigen, EnTrust Global and Monroe Vos, and consulted for investment firms such as CENTRL, SS&C and Backstop Solutions.  

“As we prepare for our next 100 years, Pitcairn is moving to expand our client base and deliver a wider range of investment offerings,” said Pitcairn Chair, CEO and President Leslie Voth. “Rob’s creative investment acumen and collaborative approach will further bolster Pitcairn’s tremendous client experience.” 

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