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Mercer Nabs $815M RIA in Atlanta

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RIA Mercer Global Advisors has acquired Atlanta Financial Associates, a wealth management firm in Atlanta with about $815 million in assets under management.

AFA serves about 570 clients and was founded in 1992 by Julianne Andrews and Cathy Miller, who serve as principals at the firm, along with Rick Henderson. It focuses on delivering comprehensive wealth management services to high-net-worth clients. AFA has four shareholders, including the three principals and Chris Blackmon, senior wealth manager.

Nineteen AFA team members will be joining Mercer as part of the transaction, which closed Dec. 31. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The purchase follows Mercer’s acquisition of another Atlanta RIA, Kays Financial Advisory Corp., with about 700 clients and over $800 million in AUM. That transaction was announced Tuesday after closing Nov. 30.

Other recent Mercer acquisition announcements included: Denver-based M.J. Smith and Associates, which works with $910 million of assets, in July; Frisco, Colorado-based Summit Wealth Advisors, with AUM of about $130 million in August; and Covington, Louisiana-based Personal Financial Advisors with AUM of about $105 million in October.

Like Mercer, AFA is a multi-family office of financial experts.

“When it came time for us to discuss our own succession plan and business continuity strategy, we wanted to make sure our clients continued to receive the highest quality of care,” Andrews said in the announcement. “To that end, we looked for a partner that shared our ‘client first’ mindset and could deliver on the promise of the highest caliber financial stewardship.”

After meeting with David Barton, Mercer Advisors vice chairman and M&A leader, “we knew we had found the right partner in Mercer,” Andrews noted.

Although AFA “had many suitors,” Miller said Mercer was “most aligned with our business model and culture and allowed us to take advantage of their scale and leverage so we could offload middle and back-office responsibilities to disciplined and specialized experts.”

The AFA partners also “loved that they offered their clients in-house family office services like estate planning, tax return preparation and corporate trustee services,” Miller added.

Explaining Mercer’s reason for buying AFA, Barton said: “Julie, Cathy, Rick, and Chris have built a multidisciplinary RIA practice that closely aligns to our operating model. They also have a deep and talented team that stacks talent in our already strong and fast-growing Georgia hub. AFA is both compatible and complementary and our business combination presents a formidable juggernaut in the Southeast. We are poised for rapid growth.”

AFA “will be joining forces with our local resources in Atlanta expanding our already strong presence in Georgia and the Southeast region,” Dave Welling, Mercer CEO, said in a statement.

Denver, Colorado-based Mercer Global Advisors now has almost $25 billion in client assets. Its parent company is Mercer Advisors, which has more than 440 employees and operates nationally with more than 45 locations. Oak Hill and Genstar are majority owners of Mercer Advisors, along with Mercer’s management.

Park Sutton Advisors served as exclusive financial advisor to AFA in the transaction with legal representation by Riezman Berger.