November 4, 2013

2 Boston-Area RIAs Merge to Form $1.2 Billion Firm

Argent Wealth and Pillar Financial will continue to focus on HNW and UHNW clients, leveraging scale and complementary services to grow while staying private

Argent Wealth Management and Pillar Financial Advisors announced that they have merged their like-sized and similary focused RIA firms effective Nov. 1 under the name Argent Wealth Management LLC.

David DeVoe of DeVoe & Co., whose firm provided strategic consulting and valuation work to both firms, said the deal was a “strategic transaction” under which the two firms will be able to leverage their “complementary services,” including the tax and estate planning expertise of Argent and Pillar’s financial planning expertise, to grow the combined $1.2 billion firm.

In addition, growth among the high-net-worth and ultrahigh-net-worth clients who are the focus of both firms will be driven, DeVoe said, by the “strong referral network” enjoyed by Argent through Fidelity. The firms’ typical clients have $5 million or more in assets, DeVoe said, and while they are concentrated in the Boston area, both firms have clients across the country.

“Each of these organizations are realizing the benefits of scale and the value of independence,” DeVoe said, “leveraging the benefits of larger, more scalable organizations.” In addition, the merger provides "a broader range of future succession options,” DeVoe said, and “expands the management team at both companies.”  Mergers like this, said DeVoe, “help mitigate the risk around a principal being hit by a bus, while creating greater career opportunities for the staff.”

The two firms will operate in their current locations until January, when they will merge operations in Waltham, Mass., where Pillar is based.

In passing, DeVoe observed that there have been a number of mergers and acquisitions of advisory firms in the Boston area lately, such as those involving The Colony Group’s merger with Mintz Levin (under the Focus Financial Partners’ aegis) and Banyan Partners’ June purchase of Silver Bridge Advisors. Rather than there being anything in the water, DeVoe said that “each city and region is its own community, and as a series of transactions occur, more people start to become more curious about M&A.”

Argent and Pillar are both fee-only firms that have been in business for more than 20 years. Argent, based in Weston, Mass., is led by president and founder David Duchesneau, while Pillar’s president is Bill Baldwin, a past chairman of NAPFA. In a statement, Baldwin said that “Combining our firms gives us the ability to grow while remaining a private company, with capabilities that are among the most sophisticated, comprehensive and respected in our industry.” 

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