Focus Financial closes hot 2012 with yet another deal

Purchase of Merriman hikes firms' AUM to nearly $60 billion; more TBA?

Jan 7, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

By Liz Skinner

It was a very busy year for Focus Financial Partners LLC.

On Friday, the fast-growing group of independent wealth managers announced that it had acquired Merriman LLC, a $1.5 billion Washington advisory firm, in late December. The deal, which boosted Focus' client assets to nearly $60 billion, marked the firm's seventh acquisition in 2012.

The purchase of Merriman expands New York-based Focus' presence on the West Coast. Merriman's nine advisers will be the first in the Focus network located in Seattle. Merriman , which was founded by Paul Merriman in 1983, stresses an academically based diversified investment strategy. Mr. Merriman retired in October 2011.

“Last year was an outstanding year for Focus, and Merriman is one of our most important transactions, as it is one of the leading firms in the Northwest,” said Rudy Adolf, founder and chief executive of Focus. “Merriman is a perfect fit for Focus because it is client-centric and focused on delivering value to clients with a comprehensive-wealth-management model.”

Mr. Adolf would not discuss the financial terms of the transaction, though he did say Focus will not have control over Merriman's business. Management at Focus hopes Merriman will access its marketing, operations and technology talents, he said.

The transaction allows the next generation of Merriman's financial advisers to become partners in their firm and ensure that the business exists for a long time, said Colleen Lindstrom, Merriman's chief executive. The firm has about 2,000 clients in 49 states, though most are in the Pacific Northwest region.

“We don't expect anything to change for our current clients,” Ms. Lindstrom said. “This will help show clients that that their adviser with the firm will be able to serve them for a long time.”

Focus Financial was founded in 2006 with four partner firms and $3.5 billion in assets under management. The Merriman acquisition is the firm's largest registered investment adviser purchase in 2012. A spokesman for Focus said additional deals from the year still could be announced.

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