Buckingham Family Merges With Wealth Management Consultants

The private company's affiliates advise on $12 billion in assets

The Buckingham Family of Financial Services, a partner firm of Focus Financial Partners, has merged with Sonoma County-based Wealth Management Consultants LLC (WMC), the firm announced Monday. Buckingham also said it is continuing to execute its succession plan for Buckingham Asset Management, an affiliate, with the transition of Adam Birenbaum to chief executive.

Buckingham, whose firms collectively advise on more than $12 billion in assets, recently appeared on the 2010 INC 5000 list of the fastest growing private U.S. companies, the statement said.

Buckingham, which is headquartered in St. Louis, said that its strategic merger with WMC fits its goal to become the leading passive investment firm. The merger was conducted with the guidance and resources of Focus Financial Partners, it said.

 “We are delighted to be joining forces with the talented WMC team,” Bert Schweizer, Buckingham’s co-founder and chairman, said in the statement. “WMC presents an excellent opportunity to broaden the geographic reach, scope and scale of our combined wealth management services to individuals, businesses, trusts, not-for-profits and retirement plans.”

WMC, which manages approximately $400 million, was co-founded by Irwin “Irv” Rothenberg some 20 years ago. Like Buckingham, the statement said, WMC is a longtime proponent of Modern Portfolio Theory and passive investing, believing that client goals are best reached by an investment strategy designed to consistently take market gains while limiting investment costs. In addition, Rothenberg helped to build Buckingham’s sister company, BAM Advisor Services, a turnkey asset management platform that offers support services for RIAs and CPAs, with an emphasis on passive investing. WMC will maintain its name and continue to be led by Rothenberg, Thelia Eagan and Brent Thomas.

Birenbaum’s transition to chief executive, succeeding Schweizer, will allow Schweizer to focus on his role as chairman of the firm and continue his role as an advisor to Buckingham clients, the statement said.

Buckingham announced to employees last year that Birenbaum would move into his new role in January 2011. According to the statement, Birenbaum plans to continue growing Buckingham as an industry leader through current business development activities as well as a growing emphasis on acquisitions and recruiting. He stated: “With Focus’ expertise and resources in facilitating deals, Buckingham is actively looking to continue partnering with Focus to bring on the nation’s top firms that meet our rigorous standards and strict investment philosophy. Quite simply, we are looking to create the center of the passive universe at Buckingham.”

Rudy Adolf, chief executive and founder of Focus Financial Partners, said in the statement that his firm will continue to invest in the growth and continuity of its firms. “Buckingham, one of the preeminent firms in the industry, is a shining example of how we partner together with our firms to execute on a well-conceived strategy,” he said.  

Led by a team of 10 principals, The Buckingham Family of Financial Services includes Buckingham Asset Management LLC, BAM Advisor Services LLC and BAM Risk Management LLC.

WMC specializes in servicing high-net-worth families located mostly in and around Sonoma County, California. The company provides 150 family relationships with holistic financial planning and investment management services. 

Focus Financial Partners is an international partnership of independent fiduciary wealth management firms. With more than $36 billion and some 650 employees and partners, Focus partners provide wealth management, benefit and investment consulting services to individuals, families, employers and institutions.

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