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Financial Advisor Magazine

Mercer Advisors Acquires Financial & Investment Management Group, Ltd.

Mercer Advisors Inc. on Thursday announced its acquisition of Financial & Investment Management Group Ltd., otherwise known as FIM Group, a comprehensive wealth management RIA based in Traverse City, Mich. with branch offices in Onalaska, Wisc. and Kahului, Hawaii.

Denver-based Mercer Advisors has been busy in November—this past Monday it announced the purchase of Sigma Investment Management Co. in Portland, Ore., and two Mondays ago it said it bought Beacon Wealth Management, which has offices in New Jersey and Florida.

The FIM Group acquisition brings 1,500 mass affluent and high-net-worth clients with $600 million in assets to Mercer Advisors, and bolsters its overall AUM to roughly $14.5 billion. It also brings a roster of 14 veteran financial professionals to the fold, which was a big selling point.

“Regarding acquisitions, one of the things Mercer looks for is talent,” says David Barton, the company’s vice chairman who leads its M&A activity. “They [FIM Group] have a very deep bench of CFPs, CFAs and other highly credentialed people who fit neatly into our organization. It’s very hard to find seasoned, talented people, so that’s one of the key characteristics I look for in selecting a quality partner.

“We also look at capabilities,” he adds. “The capabilities they bring to the table are nuanced and sophisticated approaches to holistic financial planning, which is very complementary to our financial planning approach.”

Mercer Advisors is a soup-to-nuts operation that provides comprehensive, fee-only investment management, financial planning, family office services, retirement benefits and distribution planning, estate and tax planning, asset protection expertise, and corporate trustee and trust administration services.

One of the factors driving its pickup of FIM Group—and its RIA acquisition spree in general—is the desire for proximity to its clients.

“We want to be close to our clients because you can’t deliver family office services four states away,” Barton says. “The fact they have three locations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Hawaii—Wisconsin and Hawaii are brand new markets for us—was fundamental to the transaction. And the ability to deliver CPA advice, legal advice and CFP advice in a coordinated fashion is paramount.”

M&A Focus

Mercer Advisors began its acquisitions push two years ago, and it beefed up its M&A staff this past summer to take advantage of the favorable M&A environment.

“The smaller firms understand there will be winners and losers, and larger players can offer scale, leverage, benefits, lower fees and wider service sets that they can’t match,” Barton explains. “It’s either build it or join it. Smaller firms don’t have the time, capital or expertise to build it. The only reasonable choice for them is to join it.”

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