Focused on reaching $5 billion in assets under management, EP Wealth Advisors snapped up a prominent woman-owned boutique firm, its second acquisition in a year.

The deal for San Francisco-based Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors raises EP Wealth's AUM to about $2.3 billion.

Ballou Plum managed $300 million for clients and Moore Financial Group, which EP acquired last year, managed $60 million in Littleton, Colo., at the time of its purchase.

SECOND DEAL OF WEEK

Terms of the Ballou Plum purchase were not disclosed.

It's also the second deal of the week for David Selig, the M&A consultant and CEO of Advice Dynamics Partner who the Torrance, Calif.-based firm hired in 2013 to help fuel its inorganic goals.

Selig also brokered a merger of two Colorado firms to form Colorado Financial Management.

Read more: Merger of 2 RIAs Creates $1.25B RIA Colorado Financial

Combining EP Wealth with Ballou Plum will enable the new firm to "be able to expand upon the services that we specifically offer to women," says EP Wealth's president, Patrick Goshtigian.

'GO-TO FIRM FOR HNW WOMEN'

Ballou and her partner Marilyn Plum "are known in the Bay Area as kind of the go-to firm for high net worth women and their families," Ballou notes. The deal will free her up from management duties sufficiently to give her time to recruit more women advisors, she adds.

In making the move, Ballou Plum dropped its affiliation with the country's largest broker dealer, LPL Financial. EP Wealth dropped its own broker-dealer affiliation last year and debuted this month at No. 54 on Financial Planning's annual Top RIA list, which captures strictly independent firms.

ON LEAVING LPL

"We entertained the notion of being in [LPL's] hybrid program," Ballou says. Instead, "we decided to join forces with a completely fee-only independent RIA firm. We really admired the fact that they had gone through this journey themselves. That was another big attraction for us."

Transitioning Ballou Plum out of its longstanding relationship with LPL was the most challenging part of the deal, Selig says.

"That perceived safety net [with LPL] was more of a psychological barrier than anything else," Selig says. "It was very much a discovery process for Lynn and Marilyn that, at the end of the day, [independence] is a big advantage because you can pick best-of-breed practice management and business tools to best reflect your business."

'MORE TO COME'

The firm now has 17 advisors, four of whom are women, in five offices including its Torrance headquarters; Irvine, Calif.; West Los Angeles; San Francisco and Colorado.

"We are on our path to $5 billion … and I'm sure there will be more to come,"

Goshtigian says. "We are open to additional acquisitions or lift-outs of advisors."

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