Carson Wealth Management has made its biggest acquisition as the Omaha, Neb., advisory firm with $3.2 billion in assets looks to provide RIAs with a succession planning alternative to the large roll-up firms.

Carson announced Wednesday it bought Caton Financial, a $218 million hybrid RIA that is based in San Francisco. This is Carson's fifth acquisition since it launched Carson Institutional Advisors less than a year ago.

With three more even larger deals expected to be completed by September, Carson Institution could become a serious alternative to some of the leading roll-up firms in the nation. 

“We have said no more times than yes,” says Ron Carson, founder and CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group. “We are looking for people that can be our partners, and who are committed to a holistic wealth management plan.”

Nancy Caton, 65, and founder of Caton Financial, will transition her business through Carson Institutional to develop a succession plan, while staying in her current office to lead Carson Wealth’s first branch in the region.

The deal is all cash as opposed to the notes that rollups typically give, according to Carson, and will be paid over five years at a fair price regardless of what happens. If Caton operates as it did for the past 5 years, Carson said that it will receive a premium price, although the exact figure was not disclosed.

“Ron truly gets the challenges facing financial advisors who have a priority interest in the long-term welfare of their clients and who have struggled to find an exit strategy that would fairly compensate them for the businesses they’ve built,” Caton said in a statement. “Merging with Carson Wealth allows me to continue serving my clients and focus on what I love and do best — build relationships and provide financial advice — while eliminating the administrative headaches.” 

The transition to the new platform will allow Caton to have access to leverage a succession solution that draws from Carson Wealth’s deep bench of expertise, as well as recruiting resources and support from the firm’s broker-dealer and primary custodian, LPL Financial. The platform’s succession solution includes:

  1. A fair and flexible compensation approach, customized to the advisor
  2. Maintains clients’ long-term financial well-being through a natural transition
  3. Leverages the overall Carson Wealth organization to allow advisors scale strategically and serve larger, institutional relationships
  4. Support services that takes care of the back-office tasks, and enables advisors to focus more on client relationships  

“We’re able to handle a lot of things in-house, which keeps our costs down and translates into substantial savings for advisors and their clients,” says Carson. “Nancy shares the same values and priorities in terms of client relationships and providing solutions, rather than having a product and transactional focus. She’s built an amazing business with an emphasis on trust, transparency and accountability.”
Carson said, typically, RIAs that partner with Carson Institutional must work with the firm for two years before they have the right to sell.

“At a roll-up, you can’t date before you get married,” Carson said. “Until you are living with someone, you don’t really know them.”

Prior to joining Carson Wealth, Caton was an advisor with Raymond James for 23 years. She has committed to stay on for a minimum of five years with Carson Wealth to ensure a seamless succession plan, and has the flexibility to remain for as long as she chooses. By merging with the firm, Caton will begin to transition her clients to an associate advisor that she will help select.

Matt Ackermann contributed to this story

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