PFI Advisors Releases 2nd Installment of Prominent Industry Report: “Becoming a Professional Buyer – Harnessing RIA M&A Strategies for Growth”

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Latest report identifies the top strategies leading RIAs are deploying for inorganic growth. Profiles 5 successful RIA acquirers including Aspiriant; Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors; EP Wealth Advisors; Mercer Advisors; and Parallel Advisors – representing over $37 billion in client AUM

With deal volumes hitting record levels year after year, advisors are increasingly asking us for help in building the right operations infrastructure to successfully engage in M&A activities to inorganically grow their firms.

PFI Advisors (“Pure Financial Independence”) today announced the release of a new industry report on one of the top strategic issues facing independent RIAs: How to take advantage of M&A activities to boost growth in a consolidating industry.

The report, “Becoming a Professional Buyer, Part 2 – Harnessing RIA M&A Strategies for Growth” takes a timely look at one of the most important strategies leading RIA firms are developing to take advantage of the macro changes in the wealth management industry today. The report profiles an additional 5 RIA serial acquirers, based on interviews with senior executives: Aspiriant, Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, EP Wealth Advisors, Mercer Advisors, and Parallel Advisors.

“With deal volumes hitting record levels year after year, advisors are increasingly asking us for help in building the right operations infrastructure to successfully engage in M&A activities to inorganically grow their firms,” said Matt Sonnen, Founder & CEO of PFI Advisors. “Not only can we help prepare firms for M&A activities, but we also have extensive experience with post-deal onboarding and integration of firms. We are delighted to share the winning insights from some of the RIA industry’s most successful professional buyers.”

PFI Advisors’ research shows that aspirational firms are looking to jump into the M&A game; however, oftentimes they don’t truly understand, nor are they prepared for, the complexities involved in integrating the two firms and realizing the desired synergies. To shed light on this subject and to provide a business management resource for RIAs, PFI Advisors sought out 5 additional top firms that have experience and expertise in M&A in order to further build out and refine the key areas firms need to develop before embarking on inorganic growth strategies.

According to the report, current consolidation trends such as aging advisors, changing client service expectations, margin compression, and an overall increase in the complexity of doing business are impacting the wealth management industry – all of which are putting pressure on firms to achieve scale in order to remain sustainable. Particularly for smaller firms, they will be hard pressed to survive in a declining market environment, according to many industry experts.

This perfect storm of consolidating forces creates tremendous opportunity for savvy buyers to acquire firms looking to exit or join forces with another firm to gain scale and enhance the experience for both their clients and employees as part of a larger firm. In order to capitalize on the consolidation movement, RIAs need to increase their technology investments, management capacity, marketing messages and operational infrastructure in order to succeed.

Based on interviews with leading firms skilled and experienced in M&A activities, RIAs need to “polish their pitch” to better communicate and articulate why sellers will be better off as part of a larger organization. As part of this approach, PFI Advisors’ research has identified 7 key capabilities firms need to possess, prior to engaging in deal making. These include:

  • A compelling value proposition
  • Technology and operational expertise
  • Multi-disciplined leadership team
  • Management capacity for deals
  • Transparent compensation structure
  • Strong, defined culture
  • Transition support

According to the report, one of the more notable trends these professional buyers point to is that sellers aren’t always looking for an exit strategy. “We are an integrator, not an aggregator,’” says Dave Barton, Vice Chairman of Mercer Advisors. “In pretty much all of our deals, the selling principal stays involved. It is a career development opportunity not only for the seller, but also for his/her employees.” Similar advice comes from Matt Cooper, President of Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, “Our model really appeals to advisors who want to grow. If advisors really embrace letting go of the operational aspects, compliance worries and administrative hassles, they can then focus on clients again and regain the fun they used to have.”

“We are extremely grateful to the advisory firms who supported this research effort and are very pleased to be able to offer the industry the opportunity to benefit from their advice and guidance,” Sonnen said.

To read the full report, please visit

About PFI Advisors

“Pure Financial Independence.”

PFI Advisors (“Pure Financial Independence”) was founded in 2015 with the following mission in mind: “To further evolve the RIA industry from a collection of practices to businesses, and to be a continued voice in validating the industry as a legitimate landing spot for billion-dollar teams and their clients.” PFI Advisors is pioneering an operational consulting service that supports the unique back office, technology and operational needs of RIAs in growth mode. The firm conducts Technology Assessments, manages Technology Conversions and provides M&A Preparation and Integration Services. In addition, they offer COO Resource services to help RIAs in various stages of their growth. For breakaway advisors, PFI Advisors manages full RIA set up and transition to Independence, including office buildout, RIA infrastructure, client transition, and billing services, all for a simple consulting fee. There is no complicated long-term AUM fee structure or equity stake required to build the firm’s future and provide advisors “Pure Financial Independence.”

About Matt Sonnen
Matt Sonnen successfully launched Luminous Capital in 2008 with his former business partners from Merrill Lynch, and held the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer role for 4 ½ years before they sold the firm to First Republic Bank for more than $100 million in late 2012. He then went to Focus Financial Partners where he helped some of the country’s largest RIAs incorporate professional management into their businesses as they all strived for 20%+ annual growth. Matt and his team at PFI Advisors have set up billion-dollar RIAs from scratch, and have consulted RIAs of all sizes on operations and technology initiatives, as well as M&A integration projects.

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