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RIA Integrator Mercer Strikes Again In Texas and New England

By Thomas Coyle January 11, 2018

Acquisitive RIA Mercer Advisors has purchased two new firms in moves intended to strengthen its hand in two lucrative markets: Texas and New England.

In one deal, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Mercer Advisors has hired the team of Austin-based Murray & Co. Asset Management, including founder Dean Murray. This seems in keeping with the buyer’s “integration not aggregation” acquisition strategy aimed at financial planning firms looking for scale and efficiency as well as succession and continuity solutions.

“Murray & Co. is well-known in Austin and this transaction is an opportunity to invest in an established and well-positioned company that further builds our leadership position in Texas,” says Mercer Advisors’ vice chairman David Barton, who leads the M&A charge at the firm.

Murray & Co. manages $85 million. Its clients are wealthy individuals and families, endowments, non-profits and corporate-sponsored pension funds.

Mercer Advisors’ CEO Dave Welling says this breadth of client base and track record as a fiduciary financial advice firm makes nineteen-year-old Murray & Co. a good fit for his firm “both philosophically and culturally” — and for that reason stands to further “our commitment to helping our clients on their journey to economic freedom.”

Integrating the squad at Murray & Co. isn’t Mercer Advisors’ first foray into Texas. In 2016 the West Coast firm made a splash when it merged with Houston-based Kanaly Trust. Later that year it bought Dallas-based Pegasus Advisors. Those deals pushed Mercer Advisors’ in-state assets under management north of $2 billion.

Altogether Mercer Advisors and its Kanaly Trust subsidiary manage $11.6 billion, Mercer says in a press release.

In another small-firm grab, this one in the Northeast, Mercer Advisors has sprung for Pinnacle Investment Management, an investment and financial-planning firm in Simsbury, Conn. — which is close to Hartford, the state capital and a decent financial hub.

In an outcome similar to the Murray & Co. acquisition, Pinnacle’s founder and CEO John Eckel and his team will join Mercer.

Eckel says this arrangement will result in better service for his clients, “more resources on the investing and tax side,” and give legacy Pinnacle FAs more time to spend on business development.

David Barton

Mercer Advisors acquired eight firms in 2017, including Pinnacle and Murray and Co. Acquisitions in the northeastern U.S. over the past two years include Spruce Hill in Fairfield, Conn., Ray Mignone & Associates in Little Neck, N.Y., and Novos Planning in New York.

In some cases, firms bought by Mercer Advisors cease to exist as independent RIAs — Novos Planning and Spruce Planning are examples. In other cases, as with Ray Mignone & Associates, firms retain separate RIA status.