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Encore: RIA leader Peter Raimondi is back

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Peter Raimondi is back for an M&A encore.

Marking the end of his two-year noncompete clause with Boston Private Bank & Trust, the high-profile dealmaker has a new RIA — and ambitious plans to replicate the M&A success he achieved with Banyan Partners from 2006 to 2014.

Raimondi was one of the first growth-minded RIAs to cash in on the M&A boom, scoring big in 2014 when, after acquiring seven firms in five years, he sold Florida-based Banyan to Boston Private for a reported $60 million in cash and stock.

While Raimondi thrived as an entrepreneur, having founded and ran Colony Group in Boston for twenty years before founding Banyan, the bank’s corporate environment proved problematic. Initially named CEO of the newly created Boston Private Wealth, he lost the title after only eight months in the wake of executive defections and internal conflict.

Undaunted, Raimondi is determined to recapture his former glory, unveiling his latest venture, Dakota Wealth Management, formed with old Boston colleagues John DeSimone, Peter Mawn and Myranda O’Bara, principals of Oakmont Partners.

“Raimondi’s experience building large RIAs from scratch is a story that will open doors with RIAs,” says M&A consultant David DeVoe.

Dakota will start with around $600 million in AUM, Raimondi says. Oakmont brings more than $320 million, Raimondi’s legacy clients account for another $130 million and a team headed by Brett Orvieto from Strategic Asset Management Group in Fort Lauderdale, comes with an additional $150 million in assets.

The new advisory firm’s calling card will be customized portfolio management, Raimondi says.

“Investment management is moving towards robo advice and passive investment strategies,” Raimondi says. “Most RIAs are not adding more personnel to do more research, stock selection and asset allocation. They’re not offering option overlays. Managing money is both a science and art. We’re part of a disappearing breed, and that differentiates us.”

As with Banyan, M&A will be a key growth catalyst for Dakota.

Raimondi says the firm will be funded by the partners, is “well capitalized” and will offer sellers a combination of cash and equity.

His track record will be a major draw, says M&A consultant David DeVoe.

“Experience matters,” DeVoe says. “And Raimondi’s experience building large RIAs from scratch is a story that will open doors with RIAs contemplating a potential sale.”

But competition is more intense and valuations are frothier than when Raimondi was last in the market.

“Peter is entering a different market than the one he was acquiring firms in five years ago,” DeVoe notes. “Today's buyers have deeper pockets, stronger M&A acumen and more comprehensive platforms. Essentially, there are more firms that are interested in exploring a sale, but the competition is stronger than it has ever been.”

Raimondi acknowledges that there is “a lot of M&A money out there,” fueled by private equity funds “shopping for whoever is for sale.”

Dakota can compete with private equity money, he argues, by offering RIAs money management experience and giving their clients “exposure to [investments] that they don’t have now.”

Going up against other independent RIAs will be more difficult, he acknowledges.

“Dakota will be one of their choices,” he says. “They will have to decide where they fit better, who they align with the best culturally and where their equity has a better chance of growing.”

While Raimondi cites Banyan’s rapid growth as he embarks on another M&A journey, does he also see Dakota following his former firm’s destiny of itself becoming an acquisition target?

Dakota’s business model, which includes attracting firms that are looking for a succession plan, is to be an ongoing enterprise, Raimondi says. “But you can never say something is not for sale,” he adds. “If selling makes things better, you must take it seriously.”

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