Focus Financial Buys Midwest RIA Pettinga Financial Advisors

With addition of Indiana firm, AUM at Focus advisors will rise to an estimated $40 billion

Focus Financial Partners has acquired a large stake in Pettinga Financial Advisors, a wealth management firm based in Evansville, Ind., Reuters reported Tuesday.

Financial details were not disclosed, but according to Reuters, Focus typically acquires a 40% to 60% stake in independent advisors and offers some compliance and back office support. The report said Focus will actively expand its network, which currently stands at 18, this year.

The addition of Pettinga Financial Advisors, which oversees some $600 million in client assets, brings to $40 billion the combined assets managed by Focus-affiliated advisors.

Mark Pettinga, who founded his eponymous firm in 1994, told Reuters he intends to use proceeds from the transaction to buy other firms and hire advisers from brokerage firms. "I'm not comfortable sitting here, having built a relatively successful firm that I'll be happy running for 20 years. I want to grow."

New York-based Focus, which opened in 2006, is one of several firms that are building wealth management businesses by acquiring independent advisors across the U.S. Focus, backed by private equity investors Summit Partners and Polaris Venture Partners, expects "a good year" for deals in the sector, according to the report.

Last year, the firm added two wealth managers to its group, a slowdown compared with four purchases in 2009 and down from its record eight acquisitions in 2007. In addition to some upfront cash, Focus pays its affiliates with shares of the company.

Focus is expected to eventually go public through a stock market offering, Reuters reported. It said analysts are predicting a wave of such offerings after last year's successful initial public offerings by wealth management firms LPL Investment Holdings Inc, also controlled by private equity investors, and Envestnet Inc.

Focus founder Rudy Adolf told Reuters he is under no pressure from his private equity backers, or firms under the Focus umbrella, to go public soon. He also denied speculation by some observers that the firm needs to raise capital. "We have a strong balance sheet and significant resources we can deploy on future transactions," said Adolf. "There is no immediate need for us to take that step."

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.