ChangePath focuses on helping its advisory partners unlock their growth potential, so it's great to see the management team doing what it takes to accelerate their own expansion path.
A few days ago, the firm announced that it is buying RIA support provider Partnervest Advisory Services, which had a little over $700 million in AUM and a little more in unmanaged assets on the platform as of its most recent ADV.
Coupled with ChangePath's $800 million (again, working off last year's ADV) and adjusting for organic growth and the combined entity should weigh in at around $2 billion.
The strength of this deal, of course, is not so much bolting on assets as melding two solid advisory service platforms into a joint powerhouse.
ChangePath is already known as an advisor technology partner more interested in using its high-tech expertise to deliver business development insight, compliance, marketing and other support alongside the more familiar investment and back office systems.
In effect, unlike some "do it yourself" outsourced service platforms, ChangePath uses the technology as a foundation for a more strategic ongoing conversation about growth, efficiency and career performance. For example, the firm streamlines the advisory M&A process, letting affiliates integrate acquired accounts, processes and personnel without a lot of disruption.
Partnervest, meanwhile, has a similar orientation with expertise in advisory coaching as well as business succession and day-to-day support. Reading between the lines, affiliates of both firms are going to get access to even more solutions, including what could easily become an unbeatable insurance-oriented offering.
ChangePath is known for its early integration of annuities into its core portfolio management system. Partnervest has its own full-service corporate insurance agency.
And of course both firms are well versed in the intricacies of helping to extricate advisors from existing brokerage relationships, smoothing the breakaway process. That's going to remain a sweet spot, with many different routes to independence across the combined platform.
For now, however, I'm looking for a lot more news now that ChangePath has developed a taste for critical mass.
"We've got the infrastructure surrounding and supporting acquisitions like this now," ChangePath President Marty Pfannenstiel told the Kansas City Business Journal. "We've been successful with organic growth, but now we're interested in acquisitions of firms that have a similar structure of supporting registered investment advisors."
Look for more acquisitions ahead.
"We're integrating Partnervest, and then we'll look for additional opportunities," Pfannenstiel said. "The end game is to continue to grow with an emphasis on providing great service to our advisers, with a platform that enables them to focus on their own growth and customer service. Having the ability to have a broker/dealer affiliated with us and insurance services makes us a pretty attractive offering all together."