Mariner Wealth Advisors, the Leawood, Kansas-based advisory firm, continued its acquisitive ways Monday by announcing that it had bought a majority interest in Housen Financial Group, based in the New Jersey Shore town of Manasquan, adding Housen’s $817 million in client assets under management and 13 professionals to its growing network.
Mariner Wealth Advisors now has $9.5 billion in total AUM, including $2.4 billion in the Northeast; in late 2012, it acquired another New Jersey firm, Brinton Eaton, and its $700 million in client assets under management.
Why Housen? Marty Bicknell, CEO of Mariner Wealth, said in an interview Tuesday that buying a majority stake in RIA firms was standard procedure for Mariner. “We left relatively significant ownership in the hands of local leadership,” he said, referring to Housen but also to Mariner’s typical acquisitions. “With only two exceptions, we maintain the local existing brand and management team.” Bicknell declined to provide the acquisition price for Housen, though he said Housen will keep its name.
So are the Housen acquisition and Mariner’s others a succession planning strategy for the owners? “In the last couple of acquisitions, the founders have been relatively young, so it’s not a short-term succession plan” for them, but rather the Mariner acquisition helps provide “fuel for growth and strategies for growth” with the acquired firms’ “partners and lead people.” As part of their acquisitions, Bicknell says Mariner likes to provide more junior employees with small ownership stakes as well.
Is Bicknell happy with Mariner being called a ‘rollup firm?’ “The name doesn’t bother me,” he says, but adds that there is a difference between Mariner and other firms that acquire RIA practices.
“We don’t have an exit strategy” or plan on going public within the next three, five or seven years, he said. “We want to be the partner for a firm that wants a second chance” for growth.