Latest deal caps hot 2012 for Focus

By Liz Skinner

Jan 13, 2013 @ 12:01 am (Updated 4:46 pm) EST

Focus Financial Partners LLC was very busy last year.

Its purchase last month of Merriman LLC, a $1.5 billion advisory firm, boosted Focus' client assets to nearly $60 billion and marked its seventh acquisition in 2012. The acquisition was announced Jan. 7.

The purchase of Seattle-based 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. He retired in 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 declined to discuss the financial terms of the transaction, but he did say that Focus won't have control over Merriman's business.

Management at Focus hopes that Merriman will access its marketing, operations and technology resources, 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.

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

Focus was founded in 2006 with four partner firms and $3.5 billion in assets under management. The Merriman acquisition was the firm's largest registered investment adviser purchase last year.

Additional deals from the year still could be announced, Focus spokeswoman Raina Gajjar said.

lskinner@investmentnews.com Twitter: @skinnerliz

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