Focus adds $2.2 billion RIA Telemus

Latest deal increases roster of partner firms to 27

Aug 12, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

By Dan Jamieson

Focus Financial Partners LLC announced Monday it added Telemus Capital Partners LLC of Southfield, Mich., to its roster of 27 partner firms.

Telemus, with $2.2 billion in assets, was founded in 2005 by former UBS AG brokers Gary Ran, Bob Stone and Lyle Wolberg. Mary Bakhaus and Joshua Levine are also partners. The firm has 10 advisers.

Terms were not disclosed.

Telemus serves mostly entrepreneurs and professionals with $1-million-plus portfolios and net worths of from $5 million to $20 million, Mr. Wolberg said.

“We've been following Focus since they started in 2006, and they've been calling us every three months,” he said. “We felt it was a great time to become a partner and get access to capital to help us grow.”

Mr. Wolberg said the firm doesn't have any acquisition targets on the radar, “but over the last eight years we've had some opportunities we couldn't do” without access to financing.

In 2007, Telemus bought Beacon Asset Management LLC, a money management firm with a “unique corporate taxable fixed-income” strategy, Mr. Wolberg said.

“We're best of breed,” he added. “If we can't find something out there, we'll try to create it ourselves.”

The firm uses several subadvisers for client portfolios.

One subadviser is Robinson Capital Management LLC, a firm founded by Telemus' former chief investment officer, James Robinson, who left last December to run several hedge funds.

Telemus also uses Evercore Wealth Management for core equity management.

In addition to help with acquisitions, Mr. Wolberg said his firm wanted to gain access to Focus' expertise with compliance, technology, marketing and operations, as well as networking opportunities with other Focus partner firms.

While some critics wonder how Focus' decentralized approach with its partner firms will ever achieve scale economies, Mr. Wolberg said that's exactly what attracted Telemus to the aggregator.

“We've been approached by others,” he said, “and every time we looked, it seemed like you would end up as a subsidiary of that [aggregator] firm.”

The Telemus deal was the fifth this year for Focus, whose partner firms manage more than $65 billion.

Focus buys a percentage of partner firms' cash flow in exchange for cash and stock in Focus.

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