As it continues its drive toward a national presence, rollup firm United Capital Financial Partners has entered two new markets, buying CS Capital Management in Indianapolis and PRI Investments in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The new additions bring $625 million in assets under management to the parent, according to a release.

With 61 offices nationwide, United Capital now claims about $13 billion in assets under management.

"The geography matters a lot to us," Matt Brinker, senior vice president of United Capital's partner acquisitions, says of the two new additions -- "but not as much as the cultural alignment with two groups that recognized that their infrastructure and the amount of time they were spending operating the business was a major distraction from growing the firm."

FULL ACQUISITIONS

Unlike aggregator Focus Financial, which acquires 30% to 50% of its network firms' net income, United Capital buys its firms outright. In joining the larger company, firms like CS Capital and PRI give up their brand names.

In exchange, they get access to the parent company's technology and pocketbook to fuel growth. Firm leaders also get equity in United Capital itself; the company's CEO has said the firm is planning an initial public offering down the line. 

"We've spent millions on our infrastructure and our partners are able to leverage what we are bringing to bear," Brinker says. "They can, first and foremost, spend more time in front of clients and prospecting for new relationships."

NEW SPIN: 'FINANCIAL LIFE MANAGEMENT'

United Capital recently rebranded away from the common industry term "wealth management" in favor of "financial life management," Brinker says.

The firm found that its clients see bankers, brokers and insurance sales people all as wealth managers, indistinguishable from RIAs, he says.

By contrast, United seeks to differentiate itself by telling clients that they are concerned more with their actual life choices than with their money.

"Our whole industry talks about money, but most peoples' turning points in their lives are about making tough choices," Brinker says. "Taking that job or not taking that job, private school or not private school. It's about tradeoffs, not money. Life is nothing but a continuum of tradeoffs.

"That has very little to do with what portion of the portfolio is allocated to emerging markets," he adds. "That is less impactful then spending too much money or spending too little money."

GAINING SCALE

In hooking up with United Capital, the two smaller firms are gambling that they'll be able to spend more time helping clients wrangle with these tough choices -- and more time hunting down new clients -- rather than spending time on technology, succession or compliance issues, Brinker says.

CS Capital managing directors, Mike Surenkamp and Roel Carandang, are joining United Capital, along with eight staff members. PRI's managing director, Andrew Blass, also joins the firm.

“The concept of financial life management resonates with me and my staff," Blass says in the release. "In fact, I believe everything happening at United Capital is setting up to be transformative for the entire industry. This is something that I could not have built on my own, and I realized early during my search for a partner firm that I was able to join what I thought was the best of the industry.”   

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