After 15 months of inactivity, Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors is buying RIAs again.
The firm has made 12 acquisitions since 2011, but didn’t do any deals in 2018. Instead, Newport Beach, California-based Beacon Point, which has over $2 billion in AUM, spent the year undergoing an internal restructuring after buying out senior partner Garth Flint, says firm president Matt Cooper.
After using a database to source Heller Wealth Advisors, a Summit, New Jersey-based RIA with $392 million in assets under management,, Cooper met with Heller founder Jordan Heller outside Penn Station in New York City.
“We ended up walking and talking for 30 blocks and hit it off,” Cooper says.
Heller says he was looking to merge into a bigger firm to spur growth, but had “no desire to sell. I was looking for a family-type partnership where people were collegial and worked together.”
Although Heller was besieged with offers from other buyers, most were “looking for a transaction. Beacon Pointe felt different. I liked the partners and Matt’s unique style was very appealing.”
Heller and Donald Hertling, president of Heller Wealth Advisors, will join Beacon Pointe as managing directors and partners. Heller, who is a specialist in real estate investment trusts and worked for Merrill Lynch, Solomon Brothers and Price Waterhouse, will run Beacon Pointe’s tri-state office.
Beacon Pointe hopes to makes several more acquisitions this year, targeting the mid-Atlantic region, northern Virginia, Florida and the Midwest.
Cooper says he expects the M&A market for RIAs to remain “extremely competitive” with elevated valuations. Even a “reasonable” stock market correction is unlikely to dampen the appetite for available RIAs, he maintains.
“There’s too many dollars chasing too few platforms,” Cooper says.
How will Beacon Pointe compete against private equity-backed buyers with deeper pockets?
Cooper thinks his firm’s all-equity offer to sellers will appeal to RIA owners who “don’t want to sell out and walk away. Most sellers want to continue in the business, make meaningful contributions and grow faster.”
By offering a collaborative committee system and transparency, Beacon Pointe is positioning itself as a contrast to buyers who, according to Cooper, “are asking sellers to give up shared input.”
Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors is part of Beacon Pointe Holdings, which includes Beacon Pointe Advisors, a $5 billion RIA also located in Newport Beach.