Recruiting and dealmaking are off to a good start in 2018.

Focus Financial Partners said Cornerstone Wealth Group, an RIA based in Huntersville, North Carolina, recently joined its partnership. The group was recently affiliated with LPL Financial.

Cornerstone has eight offices in North Carolina, South Carolina and San Francisco, as well as about $1.3 billion client assets. It includes more than 15 financial advisors and investment professionals, some of whom work on retirement-plan consulting.

“We had been looking for a partner who would help the Cornerstone team elevate our firm to the next level. Focus turned out to be a perfect fit for us because of its ability to provide us superb access to capital, expertise in M&A and value-add growth support,” said Cornerstone CEO Craig Rubrecht, in a statement.

“We are excited to partner with and support the outstanding entrepreneurial vision of the Cornerstone team as they embark upon the next stage of their growth,” explained Chris Dupuy, president of Focus Independence, in a statement. “Cornerstone’s strong presence and reputation in the Carolinas make it a great platform for future M&A transactions that can bring together the fragmented RIA market in the region.”

More Developments

Meanwhile, HighTower says a $115 million team has joined it in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The group is led by Gayle Johnson, who previously worked for Merrill Lynch for 18 years.

“Last year was our biggest ever in terms of growth and with this expansion of our presence in Santa Fe, we’re off to a promising start for 2018,” said Kimberly Papedis, head of National Sales & Platform Strategy at HighTower, in a statement.

Ameriprise Financial announced recently that Jose Lopez has moved to its employee channel from Raymond James in Orlando with about $124 million in assets.

Ameriprise has the tools and solutions our team needs to simplify our clients’ financial complexities. I look forward to growing my practice here and continuing to provide superior service to my clients,” Lopez said in a statement.

For its part, Raymond James’ employee channel said it has named complex and branch managers of 2017: Tony Barrett of the Delaware Valley Complex and Clifford Foster of the Richmond, Virginia, branch.

“In addition to successfully building their businesses, they are great mentors and role models who exemplify our core values of client first, conservatism, independence and integrity every day,” said Tash Elwyn, head of Raymond James & Associates in a statement. “They inspire their financial advisors and branch associates, provide best-in-class support, and have been an important part of RJA’s continued growth in 2017.”

The annual Complex and Branch Manager of the Year awards are given to two of the more than 245 complex and branch managers in RJA, based on nominations from the field and endorsements from the nominees’ divisional and regional directors.

Barrett joined Raymond James in 2009. In 2017, he recruited four financial advisors with more than $830 million in assets under management and $5.45 million in yearly fees & commissions. In addition, he leads the Raymond James Black Financial Advisors Network and served a two-year term on RJA’s Executive Council.

Foster joined Raymond James through Morgan Keegan, which the firm acquired in 2012. He recruited 13 of the 16 financial advisors in the downtown Richmond office, and in 2017 hired seven financial advisors with more than $7.5 million in production. Foster serves on the Raymond James Technology Advisory Committee and RJA Executive Council.