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Hybrid RIA to buy $500M practice fed up with burdensome tasks

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An RIA with more than $500 million in assets under management has agreed to be acquired by Wealth Enhancement Group — but not for a succession plan or a monetization play. Its founders say they just want to have more fun.

“[We] spent more and more time behind closed doors having intra-office meetings, and it took us away from our clients and took the fun out of it,” says Larry Lindsley of Summit Planning Group of the agreement to be purchased. “It lengthens my career, not shortens it, because I get back to what I enjoy doing.”

By making the deal, the fee-only Green Bay, Wisconsin-based team — led by Lindsley and fellow advisors Al Hicks, David Demeuse and Lee Revolinski — hoped to keep things the same for their clients while getting rid of the burdensome tasks associated with running their own firm.

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Private equity-backed LPL Financial hybrid RIA Wealth Enhancement, which is owned by an investment fund advised by an affiliate of Advisor Group parent Lightyear Capital, would make its 10th acquisition in the past five years upon expected closure of the deal in April. The parties did not disclose the financial terms.

While the 14-year LPL veterans who dropped their brokerage business five years ago won’t be affiliating again with the No. 1 independent broker-dealer, firms including LPL are pitching RIAs on the removal of their headaches. Wealth Enhancement has also grown organically by $1 billion each of the past two years.

The Minneapolis-based hybrid currently manages $9.6 billion in client assets, and it’s trying to keep up the momentum, according to Wealth Enhancement CEO Jeff Dekko.

“It's even more important that we find the right partners: Advisory firms with a client-focused culture and the desire to leverage our team-based approach to financial planning, portfolio management and back-office operations to take the client experience they offer — and their own growth trajectory — to another level," Dekko said in a statement.

Lindsley and Hicks have some 55 years of industry experience between them, and Summit’s other founders each have 15 or more, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. The RIA has $513.7 million in AUM, its latest SEC Form ADV shows.

The team has already tapped four younger planners for their actual succession plan. They met with five potential suitors face-to-face after embarking on a search for an acquisition partner roughly a year ago, they say. Lindsley and Hicks had also heard about Wealth Enhancement from another Wisconsin-based advisor who struck a deal with the firm last year.

Wealth Enhancement stood out from the group because its five different custodial options gave Summit the ability to keep its current relationship with TD Ameritrade. The attitude of staff who introduced themselves on their visit to Wealth Enhancement’s headquarters also set it apart, Lindsley and Hicks say.

“The site visits were extremely important,” Hicks says. “It's easier to see and find cultural fit there rather than any other way.”

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