Illustration: Michael Glenwood Gibbs/

Continuing its acquisition streak, Mercer Advisors, an RIA, announced Tuesday it had purchased First Ohio Planning, a Columbus, Ohio-based wealth management firm with $350 million of assets under management.

First Ohio was founded in 1979 by James S. Ryan, who will be joining Mercer along with a staff of five. The group will be merging into Mercer Advisors’ existing office in Columbus.

“Jim had a number of suitors interested in his business, as he should have,” according to Dave Baron, Mercer vice chairman. “He built a first class business and I admired the expertise in the ERISA space which complemented our own. We manage over $1 billion in ERISA plan assets and Jim and his team bring concentrated sophistication in a complex area building out for us an all-star ERISA team. … [This is a] great partnership for both parties.”

First Ohio serves 280 households focusing on high-net-worth clientele. Ryan said in a statement that he “hit it off” with Barton, who “understood the business in detail and also knew first-hand the challenges I was facing as a business owner. Together we walked through the pros and cons of a business combination and my conclusion was Mercer Advisors was a great fit for me, my staff, and most important, for our clients.”

In 2019, Mercer was the second biggest acquirer of RIAs, with nine deals, according to DeVoe & Co.’s year-end Deal Book. Mercer itself was the target of one of the largest transactions of the year, sold in part to Oak Hill Capital for $16.5 billion, DeVoe notes. Today the RIA is majority owned by Oak Hill and Genstar Capital and has $18.7 billion in assets under management.

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