EP extends footprint with acquisition of $500 million RIA

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EP Wealth Advisors is betting on the Pacific Northwest, as the RIA continues to develop its regional presence along the west coast.

EP, one of three firms backed by financial services holding company Wealth Partners Capital Group, will acquire Seattle-based Conlon Dart Wealth Management. “This is EP’s largest acquisition to date,” says Brian Parker, co-founder and managing partner of EP.

Both firms declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

The addition of Conlon Dart brings over $500 million to EP’s assets under management, as well as more than 300 new clients. Prior to its recent investment, EP managed more than $4 billion in AUM, according to the firm’s SEC Form ADV.

Conlon Dart is EP’s fifth acquisition since taking a minority investment from Wealth Partners in July 2017, and the firm’s second regional expansion, following the acquisition of Donnelly Wealth Advisors in San Diego. “Given the proximity to our headquarters, [Seattle] was the logical next step,” Parker says.

“The opportunity is larger than the amount of clients already there,” says Parker, who noted that the northwest’s growing wages and wealth drew their attention to the area. “It’s a popular place for clients to migrate to, either for [job] opportunities or retirement.”

Parker says EP will continue to look for investment opportunities in the region, aided by Wealth Partners.

The Torrance, CA-based EP has satellite offices in the San Francisco bay area, San Diego, West Los Angeles, and Irvine, CA, as well as Denver, and employs 35 wealth advisors.

EP was founded in 2004 through the merger of two firms, and grew organically to $1.4 billion in AUM until 2011, when founding partners Brian Parker and Derek Holman brought on Patrick Goshtigian as president, to develop a new acquisitions strategy.

“We knew if we wanted to grow at the optimum speed we needed a partner,” says Parker. “What we are finding is that the M&A market in the RIA space continues to accelerate. The number of firms deciding to partner is growing [although] EP is not the right partner for every firm.”

In addition to its investments in EP, Wealth Partners has also taken minor positions in MAI Capital Management in the Midwest, and Forbes Family Trust on the East Coast. The triumvirate aims to consolidate small and mid-sized RIAs across the nation.

Founded by Mitch Conlon and Stephen Dart as an independent, fee-only wealth management firm, Conlon Dart serves 224 high net worth clients, comprising over $400 million of Conlon's AUM.

According to Conlon Dart’s SEC Form ADV, 13% of the firm’s investments were exchange-traded equity securities and 74% of its securities were issued by registered investment companies. Conlon uses Charles Schwab and National Financial Services as custodians.

By partnering with EP, Conlon will increase its financial planning and investment management capabilities, Dart said in a statement.

Conlon and Dart will assume the role of Regional Director and Partner at EP. Rick Bryan and Joe Boden, who were both made senior financial advisors at the firm in April, 2016, will each assume the role of senior vice president a partner at EP.

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RIAs M&A Business development Wealth Partners Capital Group EP Wealth Advisors