Focus FinancialPartners has snapped up a big Seattle wealth management firm.
Merriman , a fee-only wealth management firm based in Seattle, announced Monday it closed a deal with Focus Financial on Dec. 31. Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Merriman CEO Colleen Lindstrom told Financial Planning that the acquisition offered several payoffs: a way to monetize the interests of some of the 30-year-old firm's retirees, the resources to help Merriman expand and the freedom to continue operating independently.
"You do preserve your independence when you join Focus," Lindstrom said. "We wanted to remain entrepreneurial and [the deal] is structured that way."
Merriman, which will continue to operate under its own name, manages more than $1.5 billion in client assets, with nine advisors and a total of 36 employees. The deal was also structured to give Merriman advisors an interest in the firm -- "In our space, advisors want equity," Lindstrom said.
Although Lindstrom said 60% of clients are based in the Pacific Northwest, many are high-tech executives from Seattle companies like Microsoft and Amazon or Boeing engineers, the firm does serve clients in 49 states.
Affiliating with a larger firm also gives Merriman more heft as the industry weighs issues like regulation and fee models, said Lindstrom, who added that the two firms had been talking informally since 2007. "This was way to participate in future of industry," Lindstrom said. "When you talk about advancing the fiduciary model -- a bunch of mom-and-pop shops isn't going to do it."
Lindstrom also said the deal gives her firm new resources for expansion. Merriman is looking for acquisitions, she added, whether individuals or small firms or a midsize RIA that wants to be relieved of some of its back-office responsibilities. "We're looking at a broad spectrum of support from Focus," she said.
The deal brings Focus to almost $60 billion in client assets, the company said.