January 2023 Financial Advisor and RIA Moves and Acquisitions

With many traditional recruiting activity channels slowing during December, wirehouse activity slowed the most going into January.  RIA activity and independent activity remained strong.  Looking back at 2022, there were very consistent trends and milestones worth noting:

  • The RIA market and Independent channels continued to grow, with RIAs gaining 1,097 registered advisors and Independents gaining 923.  While the SEC continues to collect the 2022 data, there were over 1,250 new ADVs applied for during the year.
  • The shift toward the independents and RIAs being established continued through 2022 as many FAs and Teams realized how important flexibility was to them post COVID in addition to product choice, especially in the alternatives space
  • The “Wirehouse” channel which includes UBS (legacy Kidder, PaineWebber, etc), Morgan Stanley (legacy Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter), Wells Fargo Advisors (legacy Wachovia Advisors, PruSec, AG Edwards), and Merrill Lynch overall lost 1,291 advisors. 
  • The insurance linked BD channel continues to be least attractive channel and remains the slowest growing
  • The average advisor across all lines manages approximately $106 M AUM, with wirehouse FAs averaging double that. 
  • RIAs have been the most successful at adding new clients with a success rate of 69% VS broker dealer affiliated with a success rate of 59%.
  • Product use across all channels across all channels continues to favor SMAs, alternatives and ETFs. Mutual Funds are used by 30% of FAs across all channels.  
  • RIA firm mergers and acquisition was very active in 2022 with over 243 deals completed, a new record. Total RIA assets are now north of $3 trillion in assets

Overall, 15,361 advisors switched firms within the advisor profession during 2022. Through 2022, the Wirehouses and independents launched recruiting efforts spread over the year, which resulted in 5,300 FAs shifting from Firm A to Firm B.   

Firm-specific notes:

  • Merrill stated they had their strongest year in new FAs since 2011 as they had 300 new advisors, many of these came via their training program. There are a total of 19,273 FAs. 
  • Cetera had record recruitment gathering $13 B in new assets for a total of $437 B
  • LPL’s assets slipped a bit to $82 B, but added new 231 FAs for a total of 21,000 FAs
  • Wells reported that total assets dropped to $1.86 trillion, total FAs stands at 12,027 down by 340 from a year ago.  Recruiting continues to be hard for Wells post 2016 bank specific events but began a turn in Q4 with FA additions. 
  • Morgan Stanley added $311 B in net new AUM during 2022 and ended the year with $4.1 trillion in assets. 


Richard Thomas Havard and Michael Scott Crouch have joined Cyndeo Wealth Partners (RIA under Dynasty) in St. Petersburg, FL with $250 M AUM. They will continue to operate remotely under Cyndeo’s main office in St. Petersburg and adds to Cyndeo’s $1.4 B AUM. They were previously with Merrill Lynch.

Steve Doucette and Collin Habig have founded Doucette Capital in Plainville, MA managing $270 and clearing via Raymond James as the BD.  They were previously with Edward Jones. 

Fountain Financial Group

RLR Wealth Management led by Robert Rose and John Riley managing $340 M AUM have joined Janney and will be opening a new office in Greensboro, NC.  Robert Rose will also act as the Complex manager for the area. The Team was previously with Truist. 

Strategic Partners Inc based in Parsons, KS with $830 M AUM has joined LPL’s dually registered platform.  The team is led by Chris Lubbers, with an additional 18 FAs across nine states.  They were previously with Royal Alliance. 

Fountain Financial Group with $832 M AUM in Memphis, TN led by Eric Fountain, Ben Nicol, Todd Ruston, Zach Wiggs and Wendy Fuller VanCleve has joined Pinnacle Financial Partners (part of Raymond James).  The Team was previously with First Horizon Advisors


Garth Allan has joined UBS in Newport Beach, CA with $220 M AUM. He was previously with Wells Fargo. 

Siegel, Martin & Associates led by Mark A. Siegel and Patrick M. Martin in Washington, DC and manages $624 M AUM has joined UBS.  The Team has consistently been ranked on the Forbes Best in State list and focuses on corporate DCIO plans.  They were previously with Merrill Lynch. 

Alex Miller based in Houston, TX has joined the Massey Schmidt Harper Group team at Merrill Lynch. Previously he was with the Pennington Wealth Team at Ameriprise. 

Acquisitions and RIAs: 

While not an outright acquisition, Succession Link which is a Saas based company which helps FA practices looking to either purchase a practice, or sell their own, has taken a minority investment from Merchant Investment Management.  Merchant is typically in the RIA acquisition or staking business. 

LFS Wealth Advisors managing $210 M AUM in San Ramon, CA has been purchased by Robertson Stephens Wealth Management. The Team is lead by John Lau, includes Helen Lau, Matthew Lau, Diana Cason, Michael Stephens, Jennifer Spence, Carmen Liu and Jialin Liu.  All will join Robertson Stephens and will bring the firms assets to over $4 B AUM and focus on the great San Francisco market. 

Liberty Wealth Advisors with $1.72 B AUM has been acquired by Prime Capital Investment Advisors (PCIA).  Liberty has operated as an “ all-digital “ firm where all their employees have been remote and spread across 9 states. This was the 10th acquisition for PCIA in a year. 

Goldstein Advisors led by Jon Goldstein and Andy Peters based in Middleton, WI with $700 M AUM has been acquired by Bluespring Wealth Partners (backed by Kestra).  All 16 employees will make the transition and the 9th purchase for Bluespring over the past year. 

Erman Retirement Advisory based in Seal Beach, CA managing $210 M AUM has been purchased by Edelman Financial Engines.  This increases Edelman’s focus on the California market and brings their assets to $227 B AUM. 

GreerWalker Wealth LLC, the RIA launched out of GreerWalker the accounting firm in Charlotte, NC with $275 M AUM has been purchased by Choreo.  This brings Choreo’s assets to $14.8 B AUM and a presence in the South East.

F.L. Putnam Investment Management Company, and RIA who manages $5.5 B AUM in Wellesley, MA has received an investment by RIA aggregator Emigrant Partners resulting in a minority stake. 

BFS Wealth Management led by John B. Burke based in Iselin, NJ managing $532 M AUM has been acquired by WEG ( Wealth Enhancement Group, PE backed).  Nine staff members will be making the transition, which include three advisors and was an important geographic fit given BFS’s proximity to New York, NY.  BFS previously cleared via Raymond James.

Northface Capital Holdings, LLC based in Waltham, MA managing $200 M AUM has been purchased by Carson Group out of Omaha, NE.  Northface is led by Chris Tobey and gives Carson additional North East presence and will be their sixth office across the country bringing their AUM to $20 B. 

Stonnington Group based in Pasadena, CA with $575 M AUM was acquired by PCIA (Prime Capital).  The team is lead by Nick Stonnington and his team of four will all be joining. PCIA has completed 10 acquisitions over the past year.

The Ascent Group in Virginia Beach, VA which includes RIA's Summit Group (Virginia Beach,VA)  and Walsh & Nicholson Financial Group (Wayne, PA )  with a combined $2.8 B AUM has been purchased by Alera Group (PE backed by Genstar and Flexpoint Ford).  The Ascent Group also has an in-house TAMP and will continue to keep their independent practice names. 

For more details on Financial Advisor and RIA moves, we'd love to offer you a free trial of Dakota Marketplace!

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Written By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

Gui Costin is the Founder and CEO of Dakota.