Mercer Advisors is staking a claim to be one of the country's largest RIAs.

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based firm is merging with Kanaly Trust of Houston to form an $8 billion-plus powerhouse firm with 20 offices around the country.

"We grew over $1 billion organically last year," says Mercer CEO David Barton, who will head the merged firms. "This year we decided we wanted to take part in the consolidation of the industry with inorganic growth."


The deal also underscores the growing influence of private equity firms in the RIA market.

Last year Mercer, which has over $6 billion in AUM, was acquired by private equity firm Genstar Capital. Kanaly, which has over $2.5 billion, is owned by Lovell Minnick Partners, a private equity firm well known for its interest in RIAs. Lovell Minnick Partners is also the previous owner of Mercer.

Kanaly is known as a leader in the ultrahigh-net-worth market, and Mercer was particularly interested in the Houston firm's expertise in corporate trustee services. "It's a capability we didn't have and it's a burgeoning space as people are living longer," Barton says.


The merger "is a significant step forward toward scaling a national wealth management firm to a broader base of sophisticated clients,” said Genstar Managing Director Anthony Salewski, in a statement.

Indeed, Mercer will continue to be on the lookout for firms to acquire in markets across the country, including Florida, the upper Midwest, Texas and Portland, Ore., according to Barton.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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