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Orion-Brinker Deal Is Done (Already)

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The merger between Orion Advisor Solutions and Brinker Capital has closed, the firms announced Friday, less than three months after they announced the deal.

In stark contrast, Charles Schwab announced in late 2019 that it planned to buy TD Ameritrade, and that deal has yet to be finalized.

“Yes, it’s faster than a lot of deals,” Joel Bruckenstein, head of the Technology Tools for Today (T3) hub, said in a phone interview about the completion of the Orion-Brinker merger. But “it doesn’t surprise me,” he said, adding it was “beneficial to both firms to get it done as quick as possible and move forward.”

But he said the Schwab-TD Ameritrade deal was not a valid comparison to make, calling that a “massive deal” that involved “antitrust considerations.”

Echoing him, industry consultant Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategy said by email that the “Schwab-TD deal had so many regulatory and potential antitrust issues, and is at a much bigger scale, which creates an extremely long runway which could take half a decade or more to finally become integrated.”

The Orion-Brinker deal highlights “the benefits of having private equity involved in that they are experienced at dealmaking and closing transactions quickly,” Welsh said, adding: “It also points out the many synergies involved in this strategic deal to create a true TAMP powerhouse.”

Orion was also likely “sitting on additional investment now from” the recent recapitalization by financial partner TA Associates, while Brinker was likely “ready to make the move as quickly as possible given the upside for them to work with Orion’s clients,” according to Doug Fritz, founder and president of F2 Strategy.

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Although the merger was completed, Fritz said there were still “unknowns for me here” with the combined company, “mostly around tech and trading capabilities.” He wondered: “Will Orion look to move to the more complex/comprehensive tech around optimization and customization that Brinker has or will that be kept as a ‘premium’ product for select advisors?”

Regarding the fast completion of the deal, Kelly Waltrich, Orion chief marketing officer, said only: “Orion and Brinker Capital has laser-focused teams on both sides of the equation committed to executing on the deal quickly and efficiently.”

The newly unified turnkey asset management platform of the combined Orion and Brinker “will grow to $44 billion in assets,” with more than 10,000 active investment advisor representatives, the firms said in their joint announcement Friday.

“With the merger of Orion and Brinker Capital, we are able to capture the momentum created by the increasing connectivity of technology and fiduciary advice, and channel it into the pursuit of a transformative advisor-client journey,” Orion CEO Eric Clarke, who is heading the combined business as CEO, and Noreen Beaman, president of Brinker Capital Investments, said in a joint statement.

“As our companies continue to grow together, our complementary strengths will drive the entire fiduciary process with planning tools, guided or open-architecture investment solutions, and behavioral insights; powering organic advisor growth through client satisfaction,” they added.

— Check out Schwab, Fidelity Join Orion TAMP on ThinkAdvisor.