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LPL hybrid RIA to buy $276M firm in its third purchase this year

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An LPL Financial hybrid RIA backed by private equity capital is acquiring a practice with $276 million in assets under management.

The agreement marks the acquiring firm’s third M&A deal of the year and the latest example of its organic growth methods and financing attracting teams into its fold.

Wealth Enhancement Group, which is majority owned by an investment fund advised by Lightyear Capital, agreed to purchase fellow LPL hybrid RIA OneSource Retirement Advisors, the firms announced on Sept. 18. They did not disclose terms of the deal, which the firms expect to close in November.

Jeff Dekko, CEO of the Minneapolis-area Wealth Enhancement Group, has assembled a marketing team of 20 employees while tapping his prior experience in branding and development. The firm’s client targeting and segmentation methods helped its organic growth reach nearly $1.3 billion in 2017, he says.

Wealth Enhancement’s client assets now amount to $9.3 billion, including at least $7.4 billion in AUM with its RIA. The firm’s deal with OneSource represents its eighth purchase since 2013 and gives it a Philadelphia-area practice with three advisors.

Dekko praises the technical expertise and “strong commitment to planning” of OneSource, saying the team had a cultural fit with Wealth Enhancement and a desire to use resources like its marketing and planning teams at the home office.

“We have a tremendous amount of resources that we’re able to leverage to support firms that way and help them grow,” Dekko says. “They have a firm that’s been growing nicely, but they’d like to accelerate that a bit.”

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John O’Brien, Frank Ortner Jr. and Ortner's son, Frank Ortner III, are principal owners of OneSource, with O’Brien serving as president and Ortner III as vice president. He’s a CPA, while O’Brien is a CFP with earlier tenures at Merrill Lynch, UBS and Morgan Stanley before joining LPL, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

OneSource, which launched as an RIA in 2000, will merge into Wealth Enhancement’s RIA upon the closing of the deal. The team undertook “a very thorough diligence process before making the decision to partner with Wealth Enhancement Group,” Frank Ortner III said in a statement.

“Their platform is all about empowering advisors to focus on strengthening client relationships and providing the best service experience possible,” he said. “We’re very excited to work with them to drive the next chapter in our team’s growth.”

The deal would push Wealth Enhancement’s advisor head count beyond 70 financial planners nationwide. The hybrid RIA’s custodial agreements allow clients to use Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, LPL or Raymond James, according to the firm’s SEC Form ADV.

Wealth Enhancement’s brochure also lists more than $1 million in technology-related assistance from custodians this year, with $932,000 from Schwab. Lightyear, which is also an owner of Advisor Group, keeps an “information barrier” with the RIA and doesn’t get involved in client management.

Earlier this year, Wealth Enhancement agreed to buy a practice with seven CFP advisors and $340 million in AUM and another practice with one advisor managing $495 million in client assets. Private equity financing has helped M&A transactions set records for volume each of the past five years.

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