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RIA Cerity Partners Adds $1B Sullivan & Serwitz Team

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Cerity Partners, an RIA, bought the Los Altos, California-based wealth management firm Sullivan & Serwitz in a merger that’s adding $1 billion in assets under management to Cerity Partners, it said Tuesday.

Cerity Partners has offices in Orange County and Los Angeles. “The team from S&S will provide presence and growth opportunities in Northern California and started operating under the Cerity Partners’ banner” as of Jan. 1, Cerity Partners said.

Since the purchase, the firm now manages about $26 billion in assets, it noted without providing the purchase price. It didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The S&S acquisition comes only one week after Cerity Partners said it merged with EMM Wealth, adding that New York-based wealth management firm’s $3 billion in AUM to Cerity.

Echelon Partners served as the financial advisor to S&S in the sale, Echelon pointed out in a separate announcement. The purchase closed Dec. 31 and “terms of the deal are not being disclosed,” Carolyn Armitage, managing director at Echelon, told ThinkAdvisor. S&S co-owner Robert Sullivan “reached out to me regarding a desire to design a succession plan almost three years ago,” she said, adding that after the S&S  owners evaluated “their options, with Echelon’s assistance, it became evident that an internal transition wasn’t in the cards.”

S&S is “one of the increasingly rare firms that has a non-discretionary investment approach,” David DeVoe, managing partner of DeVoe & Co., which consults on M&As, told ThinkAdvisor. Both Cerity Partners and HighTower, which recently acquired $1B Shultz Collins, have “demonstrated an interest in this approach and see the power this approach has for a segment of the investing public,” he said.

S&S was co-founded in 1989 by Sullivan and Marshall Serwitz and provides “holistic wealth management, including financial planning and investment advisory services, to affluent individuals and families across the country,” Cerity Partners said.

S&S merged with Cerity Partners, which was founded in 2009, “to expand the service offerings available to its clients and to ensure a sound succession plan for its clients and colleagues,” according to Cerity Partners.

“Over the last 30 years, we have been fortunate to achieve strong growth and secure positive outcomes for our clients, and we feel Cerity Partners is the best fit for our practice to continue this growth,” according to Sullivan. “More importantly, Cerity Partners aligns with our firm culturally and philosophically; we both strongly believe advisors should always put the client first and not operate under a product-focused agenda,” he said in a statement.

“We welcome our new colleagues from Sullivan & Serwitz and look forward to growing together as a unified firm,” according to Cerity Partners CEO and president Kurt Miscinski. ”As with any merger, we seek strong cultural alignment,” he said in a statement, adding: “Looking at S&S’s 30-year history, it was apparent that the firm shares our passion for and commitment to client service.”