RIA Industry Poised for Big Year in M&A

Posted on January 5, 2018

Look for more excitement on the M&A front this year, as deep-pocketed RIAs move to grow through consolidation.

Multi-billion-dollar firms like Savant Capital Management, Mariner Wealth Advisors and Carson Group have built up war chests to compete across a field in which acquirers heavily outnumber their targets.

Savant, in Rockford, Ill., pulled together $50 million from private investors in 2016, and is ready to start deploying it, according to Financial Planning. It’s eyeing a few smaller deals as well as one in the $750 million to $1.5 billion range in a new market.

Mariner, in Leawood, Kansas, plans up to 10 deals between $250 million and $1 billion in assets, according to its chief, Marty Bicknell. And Carson Group, backed by PE firm Long Ridge Equity Partners, “will have plenty of financial resources to be an aggressive buyer,” Ron Carson tells Financial Planning.

Meanwhile, Beacon Pointe Advisors, in Newport Beach, Calif., will wave equity, not cash, in front of its targets. “The fact that we don’t want to cash people out makes us more attractive than our competition,” Matt Cooper, Beacon Pointe president, tells the publication.

Last year’s deals were on target to reach a record 150-plus, even as the size of the deals grew. The typical acquired RIA has more than $1 billion of AUM, according to Schwab Advisor Services.