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WHITE PAPER

M&A in Wealth Management

May 9, 2024

Access Cerulli’s latest insights on the drivers shaping merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in wealth management and the way that M&A will impact how advice is delivered across channels.

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A Changing Industry

Scalar plays—acquisitions by often large firms aiming to become larger through some combination of advisor headcount and geographic expansion—and tactical transactions motivated by ongoing trends are driving a sea change in wealth management. Former cottage industries, including retirement plan consulting and independent registered investment advisor (RIA) firms, are transforming into enterprises striving for broader market expansion that affirms their place in the value chain. Smaller deals aimed at acquiring specific investment capabilities, specialized services, sophisticated technology stacks, and forming tactical partnerships also continue apace.

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M&A will continue to be explored amidst persistent fee compression, shrinking shelf space, regulatory constraints, and rising technology costs in all segments of the market.

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This white paper analyzes the factors behind a ripe M&A deal environment in wealth management and what they mean for industry players.

Market Participants

If you are a private equity, wealth management, financial technology, or asset management firm, this white paper provides a top-down view of a changing market.



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Meet Our Team

Our Consultants

Andrew Blake

Andrew Blake

Associate Director

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Andrew Blake

Andrew Blake

Associate Director

Andrew is a member of Cerulli’s Wealth Management practice, leading coverage of asset manager distribution strategy for products sold through financial advisors. With a focus on the wealth management landscape, Andrew assesses trends related to advisor use of investment products as well as their relationships with clients and varying practice types.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Andrew worked at John Hancock Investment Management and a Boston-area RIA. He has spent over a decade working with financial advisors and researching distribution best practices.

Full biography here.

Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso

Senior Analyst

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Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso

Senior Analyst

Stephen is a senior analyst in the Wealth Management practice where he leads research into the registered investment advisor (RIA) channels. As part of his research, he is the author of Cerulli’s U.S. RIA Marketplace report and has written on topics including private equity investment in RIAs and the role staff play in RIAs’ pursuit of scale.

Full biography here.

Asher Cheses

Asher Cheses

Director

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Asher Cheses

Asher Cheses

Director

Asher is a member of Cerulli’s Wealth Management practice, specializing in trends that impact high-end advisory firms and high-net-worth investors. In his role, Asher is responsible for leading various strategic consulting engagements within the wealth management practice, focusing on multi-family offices, RIAs, private banks, and trust companies.

Prior to joining Cerulli, Asher worked as an Investment Analyst at a Boston-based multi-family office, where he conducted fund due diligence and portfolio analysis for high-net-worth investors.

Full biography here.

Michele Giuditta, CFA

Michele Giuditta, CFA

Director

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Michele Giuditta, CFA

Michele Giuditta, CFA

Director

Michele is a director of the Institutional practice and leads research for annual reports and strategic consulting engagements. She specializes in environmental, social, and governance investing and outsourced CIO research.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Michele worked at Cambridge Associates as an Associate Director in the Client Relationship Management Group. Additionally, she worked at Manulife Asset Management in the Institutional Investment Sales & Services Group, and held roles in Product Management and Client Relationship Management. She began her career as an analyst in the Investment Policy & Research Group at John Hancock.

Full biography here.

Laura Levesque, CFA

Laura Levesque, CFA

Director

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Laura Levesque, CFA

Laura Levesque, CFA

Director

Laura has over 15 years of institutional investment management industry experience. She is a member of the Institutional practice, where she leads research for two annual reports. Her focuses are institutional investment solutions including OCIO, and sales and services models. Her experience and knowledge of the institutional asset management space provide a directional framework to ongoing consulting projects. She also regularly contributes to The Cerulli Edge series.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Laura held equity research, product, and analytics roles at Columbia Threadneedle and MFS Investment Management. She is a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Society Boston.

Full biography here.

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Director

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Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Director

Shawn oversees the Retirement practice at Cerulli Associates. In this role, Shawn oversees and mentors a team of analysts responsible for publishing research on the trends in defined contribution (DC) and IRA markets. Additionally, Shawn provides strategic oversight to Cerulli’s consulting projects focused on opportunities in the retirement space. Shawn frequently speaks at industry summits and conferences. Shawn is also responsible for overseeing the firm’s Data Analytics team.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Shawn was a researcher at Harvard Business School where he co-authored case studies alongside professors Adi Sunderam and Luis M. Viceira focused on investment management for individual and institutional investors. Shawn started his career in investment operations at SSgA where he covered the firm’s equity collective investment trusts and institutional separate accounts.

Full biography here.

Brendan Powers, CFA

Brendan Powers, CFA

Director

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Brendan Powers, CFA

Brendan Powers, CFA

Director

Brendan is a member of Cerulli’s Product Development practice, which focuses on trends related to asset managers’ product development and management functions. This broadly includes assessing the opportunity for product development, evaluating emerging product trends, and understanding distribution and product positioning for investment products across retail and institutional channels.

Prior to joining Cerulli, Brendan worked as a Senior Client Associate at Eaton Vance Management, focusing primarily on the firm’s exchange funds.

Full biography here.

Michael Rose, MST

Michael Rose, MST

Director

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Michael Rose, MST

Michael Rose, MST

Director

Michael is a director within Cerulli’s Wealth Management practice, where he researches key elements of the wealth management industry, with an emphasis on broker/dealers and wealth management technology. In this capacity, he regularly engages with constituents across the wealth management ecosystem, including retail investors, financial advisors, and executives within wealth management, asset management, and technology firms, in order to support Cerulli’s market research initiatives.

Prior to joining Cerulli, Michael spent eight years working as a financial advisor, providing comprehensive wealth management services to high-net-worth individuals and families. Prior to his role as a financial advisor, Michael served as a research analyst for IDC, where he was responsible for researching trends within the technology industry and advising senior business executives on product strategy.

Full biography here.

Daniil Shapiro, CFA

Daniil Shapiro, CFA

Director

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Daniil Shapiro, CFA

Daniil Shapiro, CFA

Director

Daniil is part of Cerulli’s Product Development practice, where he works on the identification, analysis, and reporting of asset management industry trends with a focus on exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and alternative investments.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Daniil was part of the Product Management and Business Intelligence teams with the MainStay Funds, part of New York Life Investment Management. At MainStay, Daniil supported sales efforts via fund and ETF competitive analysis, product research, and development of marketing materials, as well as performance reporting. Before New York Life, Daniil was part of the risk management practice at Accenture, and held risk and compliance roles at HSBC’s investment bank.

Full biography here.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Director

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Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Director

With more than 20 years of financial services industry experience, Scott leads Cerulli’s research efforts focused on investor behavior and advisory relationships. In his time at Cerulli, he has authored more than two dozen in-depth reports on topics ranging from wholesale distribution to digital advice platforms. His research helps Cerulli’s clients understand how to optimize their platforms given the evolving demand for financial advice.

Scott started his career wearing a headset at Putnam Investments’ service center in 1996, before moving to more strategic roles at MFS Investment Management starting in 2000, and then to Cerulli in 2007. In addition, he currently serves as member of the CFP Board’s Digital Advice Working Group, and as a judge for the wealthmanagement.com Industry Awards.

Full biography here.

Bing Waldert

Bing Waldert

Managing Director, U.S. Research

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Bing Waldert

Bing Waldert

Managing Director, U.S. Research

Bing Waldert leads Cerulli’s U.S. Research team comprising seven research practices that cover all elements of the U.S. asset management, wealth management, and retirement markets. He has authored Cerulli reports on the wealth management industry, high-net-worth market, the annuity industry, and retirement markets. He is a frequent board-level and C-suite speaker and well-regarded industry thought leader. He has spoken in front of the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC), the Investments and Wealth Institute (IWI), and the Money Management Institute (MMI).

He has worked on client projects on emerging manager expansion strategies, independent registered investment advisors (RIAs), multi-family offices (MFOs), investment platforms, and the outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) industry. In addition, he has advised multiple private equity firms on acquisitions in the wealth management space.

Full biography here.

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