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Mercer's expansion picks up pace with $100M deal

Mercer Advisors snapped up Blue Moon Wealth Advisory, and almost $100 million in assets under management, marking the eighth notable acquisition for the rapidly expanding RIA in the past 18 months.

The Blue Moon deal now brings Mercer's AUM to just under $11 billion, almost double its AUM at the beginning of 2016, according to the firm.

Mercer has become one of the nation’s fastest growing firms by gobbling up smaller firms with less than $250 million in AUM. Wealth Design Services, a California-based advisory firm with $160 million in AUM, was purchased last month.

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Blue Moon managed $81 million in client assets, according to its latest Form ADV filed in January, serving mostly high-net-worth clients.

EYE ON SMALLER FIRMS
Smaller firms have been hot commodities on the M&A market in the first half of the year. The 44 transactions in the first quarter marked a record high for the advisory industry.

Newly minted CEO David Welling says the move underscores Mercer’s healthy appetite. The former chief of wealth management software provider Black Diamond took the reins less than three months ago and has already witnessed at least two M&A deals.

“The M&A market really opened up for us,” Welling says, adding that he expects organic growth as well. “It’s a balanced diet.”

‘QUANTUM LEVELS OF GROWTH’
Mercer is in M&A talks with dozens of other firms ranging from $100 million in AUM to $2 billion, according to Welling, and hopes to double AUM to $22 billion over the next four years.

Welling says his experience at Black Diamond "taught me how to operate while jumping quantum levels of growth. There’s a mindset and a certain speed that you get used to.”

MOVING UP THE COAST
Acquiring Blue Moon, based in Bellevue, Washington, expands Mercer’s physical presence in the Northwest.

Mercer has an office also in Bellevue only miles away from Blue Moon’s headquarters.

The acquisition “expands the beachhead,” Welling says.

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