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Bruton's Lucia Capital Seals First Deal, Adds $170M in Assets

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Lucia Capital Group, led by former LPL Financial (LPLA) executive Derek Bruton, says it has inked its first acquisition.

On Wednesday, the San Diego-based wealth management firm said it had signed a deal to buy the managed equity and fixed income accounts of West Coast Asset Management, an independent RIA in Santa Barbara, Calif., with some $170 million in client assets that uses Charles Schwab (SCHW) as its custodian.

The deal means that two WCAM leaders will join its operations: Lance Helfert, president of WCAM, is now a senior vice president of Lucia Capital, while WCAM Chief Investment Officer Atticus Lowe, CFA, is part of its research and investment management group.

With the addition of the WCAM, Lucia Capital now has 17 offices, some $2.3 billion in client assets and more than 70 employees.

“We wanted to find a group that would fit with Lucia Capital and have been looking for this type of acquisition,” said Bruton in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “This is the right acquisition for our clients, because we focus on equities … and WCAM’s alternative and fixed-income solutions can help us serve our clients better.”

In addition, the CEO notes, this purchase is part of Lucia Capital’s multiyear growth strategy. “As we said when I joined the firm a few months ago, we are focused on growing exponentially through acquisitions,” Bruton explained.

In WCAM’s case, the acquisition was especially attractive because it adds research and portfolio management expertise. “Any good acquisition is about looking for opportunities to address the gaps in your offerings,” he said.

The group also brings a network of relationships with high-net-worth clients, along with “top-tier talent” that such clients expect, Bruton notes.  

“Our focus has been on the mass affluent and will continue to be so,” he said. “But this deal tips us more toward high net worth than in the past … and opens up further possibilities for us.”

For its part, WCAM says it was courted by several firms but decided to go with Lucia Capital because of “strong chemistry, trust and shared values,” says Helfert. The group is “confident that joining forces through this transaction will provide our clients with enhanced resources to meet their needs and offer them access to an expanded universe of investment offerings and services.”

Competitive Marketplace

Striking deals like this one is no easy feat, according to Bruton.

“Let’s face it. This is buyers’ market with a number of firms growing by acquisitions,” he said. “However, their ability to grow the platforms they bring to table, afford growth and [add to] attractiveness of the firm to potential sellers has a lot to do with their success,” the CEO explained. “And we have and amazing platform that can bring amazing scale and much more to these sellers.”

Lucia Capital’s operations include 24 employee advisors serving clients throughout its RIA. In addition, Lucia runs the Bucket Strategy Advisor Network, a practice management platform and coaching program for some 50 independent advisors.

Before Bruton joined it, he spent about seven years at LPL Financial. Earlier, he was a senior manager at TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Merrill Lynch (BAC) and Schwab.

Check out Sontag Joins Board of Focus Financial; Bruton In as Lucia Capital CEO on ThinkAdvisor.


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