A second bank in as many days has opted to grow its wealth management business by buying an RIA firm.
Johnson Financial Group, the parent of family-owned Johnson Bank, announced on Wednesday that it is acquiring Cleary Gull Advisors, a Milwaukee-based RIA with $2.1 billion in assets under management.
With the acquisition, Johnson is angling to become a leading provider of investment advisory and retirement planning services in Milwaukee, the $4 billion financial service company said.
"We are making this move to strengthen our market presence with well-known, highly capable people dedicated to serving their clients with the kind of professional expertise and personal, caring approach that makes us distinctive in all that we do," Thomas Bolger, president and CEO of Johnson, said in the announcement.
After the deal closes, the combined company will have more than $8.5 billion in assets under management. The RIA firm will retain its name and will be led by Michael Cleary, chairman and CEO of Cleary Gull Advisors. Cleary will work closely with Johnson's leader of the wealth business.
One appeal for Cleary was the fact that Johnson is a local, family-owned bank. "What this means to investors and the marketplace is two legacy companies with deep roots in Milwaukee and Wisconsin will join forces, become bigger and better together and be able to grow in the best way," Cleary said.
The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2016, pending client consents and regulatory approvals. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition follows BOK Financial's announcement on Tuesday that it will purchase Weaver Wealth Management, an RIA owned by a Texas-based accounting firm.
Many banks looking to build their wealth management business often consider buying RIAs to hasten their growth objectives, says Jeffrey Brand, a managing director at mergers and acquisition firm Silver Lane Advisors. He also noted that buying RIAs, as opposed to partnering with third-party broker-dealers, represents the ultimate commitment to wealth and asset management as such acquisitions require board approval.
In 2015, banks acquired 45 RIAs and trust companies, up from only 18 in 2010, according to Silver Lane.
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