Lincoln Investment Planning has acquired Great American Advisors (GAA), a Cincinnati-based broker-dealer with 310 reps and related retail accounts. The transaction was agreed upon in May, but Lincoln just added the new reps to its platform this week.

The acquisition of GAA continues a “really specific” growth plan for Lincoln Investment, says Ed Forst, CEO of the Wyncote, Penn.-based firm. The three-legged approach to expanding its business first begins with developing its existing reps. The recruitment of new reps is its second step. Finally, acquisition has been its newest strategy, something that began about five years ago. Forst notes that its transactions have gotten progressively larger through the years, doubling the size of its sales force in less than three years. The deal for GAA represents its first acquisition of a broker-dealer.

“We are interested in existing agencies that are already successful but are looking to grow,” Forst said. “And then we can take it to new heights together.”

GAA had previously been with Great American Financial Resources, Inc. Although the two firms had a solid relationship, GAA was not a primary business for the company, according Forst. “So they handed the baton to us. The broker-dealer side of the acquisition strategy happened a little more quickly than we thought.”

Forst says his firm will make acquisitions “selectively” going forward. “We aren’t going to have LPL shaking in its boots anytime soon,” he joked. Paramount to Lincoln Investment’s future growth strategy is a desire to build its footprint in the retirement planning space.

“The biggest thing is the opportunity to get bigger because after ’08-‘09 the need for [retirement planning] help has never been greater,” Forst said. “We don’t have unlimited financing so we’ve been able to do this because we have very strong net capital. And we’ve been able to do these transactions without seeking help.”