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Mercer to Buy $740M San Diego RIA

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What You Need to Know

  • The addition of Epstein & White strengthens Mercer's presence in Southern California.
  • Mercer praised the firm's 75%-per-annum organic growth and its CEO's marketing skills.
  • This is Mercer's eighth announced acquisition this year.

RIA Mercer Global Advisors is acquiring Epstein & White Financial, a San Diego, California-based RIA that serves about 1,300 clients with assets of about $740 million, Mercer said Wednesday.

Financial terms of the transaction, which also includes EWF’s related entity Epstein & White Retirement Income Solutions, were not disclosed. EWF has achieved organic growth averaging approximately 75% per annum since 2015, Mercer said, noting the transaction is expected to close March 31.

EWF was founded in 2013 by its CEO, Brad White, a certified financial planner focusing on delivering comprehensive wealth management services to mass affluent and high-net-worth clients. The company has more than 20 team members, including seven advisors, who will be joining the Mercer Advisors team.

Prior to founding EWF, White was affiliated with Advisor Group’s SagePoint Financial Advisors (2010-2012), New England Securities (2012-2013) and MassMutual (MML) Investor Services (2013), according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website. He is still a registered advisor but no longer a registered broker-dealer, according to BrokerCheck.

White has appeared on local San Diego TV stations, Fox News and CBS. He is also the author of “The Step-by-Step Guide on How to Retire Right.” He also hosts the AM radio show “Retire Right with Epstein and White.”

Although “we know how to win new clients,” White said in the announcement that his firm also “realized that at the pace we are growing we needed to add significant scale and corporate architecture.”

EWF “needed to partner with a fully institutionalized RIA that had built out fully scaled middle and back office functionality that could handle our explosive growth,” he said. “While we had many suitors, after meeting with ‘the Daves,’ Dave Welling, Mercer Advisors’ current CEO, and Dave Barton, former CEO and now heading up M&A for Mercer Advisors, I knew we found the right home.”

White compared working with Welling and Barton to “working with Batman and Batman,” saying he was “impressed to be working with two Mercer Advisors CEOs.” He added that Mercer “not only provides all the resources and support we need to support our growth, but also enhanced our client service offering through the provisioning of their in-house family office services like estate planning, tax consulting and return preparation, corporate trustee services.”

Explaining why Mercer wanted to acquire EWF, Barton, who led this transaction on behalf of Mercer and is also its vice chairman, said White is a “marketing whiz kid who has built something truly unique.”

White’s “marketing engine reliably produces new clients in volume through his proven techniques,” Barton said, adding: “We believe we can take what Brad is doing in Southern California and syndicate his programs nationwide adding more firepower to our already significant marketing and sales platform.”

In addition, White’s team is “experienced, highly credentialed, and adds to our already deep bench in San Diego,” Barton said in a statement. “With our two organizations sharing the same mission, vision and values, ‘winning’ this transaction became a strategic priority for us.  This is truly a win-win for both organizations.”

Welling also praised White’s marketing skills and said EWF has a “very strong team with a respected brand for supporting the needs of clients in Southern California.” The acquisition “presents a significant strategic move as it adds to our already strong presence in Southern California where our teams are already entrusted with more than $5 billion in client assets and will add to our marketing prowess nationwide,” Welling explained.

Park Sutton Advisors served as exclusive financial advisor to EWF in the transaction.

This is Mercer’s eighth acquisition announced this year. Other recent purchases included: Marrs Wealth Management, an RIA in Ames, Iowa with AUM of about $215 million; Rowland Carmichael Advisors, a wealth management firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, with more than $850 million in assets under management and advisement; McGee Wealth Management, an RIA in Portland, Oregon, with about $815 million in assets; and Atlanta Financial Associates, an RIA with about $815 million in assets.

Denver-based Mercer Global Advisors has over $28 billion in client assets and about 170 advisors. Its parent company is Mercer Advisors, which has about 525 employees and operates nationally with more than 45 locations. Oak Hill and Genstar are majority owners of Mercer Advisors, along with Mercer management.