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Carson Group Seeks to Sell a Minority Stake

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What You Need to Know

  • CEO Ron Carson insists, though, that the RIA doesn’t “want to end up being sold to Goldman Sachs.”
  • The firm wants a partner to help it invest in technology and target next-gen clients.
  • The move comes five years after Long Ridge Equity Partners made a $35 million minority investment in the firm.

Carson Group aims to sell another minority stake in the firm by year-end, with its eye on a “partner with deep domain knowledge at the intersection of wealth management and technology.”

The news comes nearly five years after Long Ridge Equity Partners made a $35 million minority investment in the wealth management firm and two Long Ridge executives Jim Brown and Kevin Bhatt joined Carson’s board.

According to CEO Ron Carson, the firm is seeking a new partnership to focus on how the firm can “better, more efficiently, surprise and delight the consumer.” 

The ultimate goal of the deal is to build “an Amazon experience … or an Apple experience that … makes [the investor client’s] life easy .. and richer through technology and through human connection,” he said in an interview with ThinkAdvisor on Thursday.

At the same time, though, Carson Group doesn’t “want to end up being sold to Goldman Sachs,” he said, alluding to RIA United Capital’s sale to the investment bank in 2019 for $750 million. (The acquired entity was renamed Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management in early 2020.)

As of March 31, Carson Group has over 300 partner advisors in 145 locations who collectively manage $16 billion in assets for 37,000 families. Carson Coaching has more than 800 members.

Next Steps

Overall, the RIA aims to find a partner that can help it invest in “innovative technology and drive the next-gen experience” for its clients.

In looking at potential investor partners, the CEO insists it has to be the right fit. “If they’re not with us culturally, it’s a non-starter. That would be the first hurdle,” Carson said.

The second hurdle “is that they bring tremendous capabilities,” he explained, in terms of technology or a client base. 

“There’s one potential partner that has 14 million clients who don’t have wealth services that it has really strong relationships with,” Carson said. “There are some really exciting potential partners for Carson [Group].” 

“We’ve had people knocking on our door for three years or so now. I’d say 90% of them are really nice teams, but they look like every other opportunity out there,” the CEO explained. 

At the same time, the list of firms reaching out to Carson includes “a handful of household names that everybody would recognize with really interesting ideas and angles about how to better serve the consumer,” he said.

And the list keeps growing.

“Literally during our board meeting [Wednesday], we had two firms reach out through different contacts on the board,” he said. “It’s a dynamic process, … and the participants change every day.”