Focus Financial Partners has shored up its position as one of the biggest players in the RIA space by adding a $1.4 billion firm in suburban Chicago.

Terms of the transaction for Strategic Wealth Partners, in Deerfield, Ill., were not disclosed. Focus typically pays a combination of cash and stock for an economic stake in its partner firms, says Rudy Adolf, Focus' founder and chief executive.

The partnership deal was Focus' sixth of the year, Adolf says. The New York-based consolidator also helped fund 17 broker lift-out transactions, bringing the Focus's total client assets to over $80 billion.

"What we're seeing more of this year than ever is the acceleration of the breakaway trend," says Adolf. "We're having one of our busiest years and have had a good mix of large and very large deals, with a [minimum] of around $400 million in AUM."

INDEPENDENT BRANDING

Maintaining an independent identity was the main reason Strategic Wealth went with Focus, according to David Copeland, who co-founded the firm in 2008 with Neal Price. Both men came from Mesirow Financial, a Chicago-based advisory firm.

"Keeping our identity means no one is jamming anything down our throats," Copeland says. "We're not being folded into a national organization, we're able to keep our name and our entrepreneurial spirit and we're able to talk to other Focus members who may have expertise we can benefit from."

Strategic Wealth targets clients with between $3 million and $20 million in investable assets, Copeland says, although the firm does accept clients who have less than $3 million. Clients in the Chicago market tend to be either corporate professionals who are working or approaching retirement, he says, or entrepreneurs who own manufacturing or service businesses and are dealing with liquidity events and the subsequent allocation of capital.

“Given the highly fragmented nature of the Chicago RIA market, we see tremendous potential for Strategic Wealth Partners to further establish a regional presence in and around Chicago,” Focus Managing Director Vamsi Yadlapati said in a statement.

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