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How a Chance Meeting Led to a Multi-Family Office Merger

By Garrett Keyes March 12, 2019

Multi-family office Bender Lane Advisory and manager Hugh Johnson Advisors are joining ranks to form $1.8 billion AUM JNB Advisors. The deal was sparked by “a chance meeting of two old friends,” says Bender Lane President Daniel Rutnik. Sitting down with FA-IQ, Rutnik explains how the deal came to be and what it means for each firm.

Q: What sparked the decision for Hugh Johnson Advisors and Bender Lane Advisory to merge?

A: The spark for the merger was a chance meeting of two old friends. Dan Nolan and I worked together for many years at Ayco. Our paths diverged long ago but publicity about an honor granted to me reminded Dan of me, and highlighted BLA’s success. After that, Dan reached out and we began talking. Dan first saw the logic of the merger. I instantly liked and respected their people and saw that the merger would accelerate and enhance plans we already had in the making. And the same is true for HJA.

Q: How will BLA and HJA work to complement each other’s business?

A: BLA and HJA’s combination will be highly complementary. BLA serves ultra-high net worth families with a range of services, including asset management. And the people at HJA add talent and resources to our investment management functions. From the HJA perspective, they see a client need to add financial planning to some of their investment relationships. And the technical sophistication of BLA employees will help define and deliver that service. Dan, president of HJA, also originally came from a financial planning background, having worked with me for many years at Ayco. He understands both firms and can operate effectively with all client segments. In the past each firm faced situations where we lacked the proper tools to meet the needs of a prospective client. This fills out our collective toolkit.

Daniel Rutnik

Q: As a part of the merger both firms are said to maintain their firm identities. What is the goal of forming the unified JNB with each firm maintaining separate firm identities?

A: JNB Advisors will simply be the name of our parent entity and successor to our respective firms. It will go largely unadvertised. We have each spent years building market recognition of our respective names and it would be foolish to squander those resources. We will continue to operate our divisions under their well-established names while connecting them behind the scenes to fully utilize the collective skills of the organization. And we will all be under one roof.

*This interview had been edited for brevity and clarity.