ALPHARETTA, Ga., March 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Merit Financial Group (Merit), an independent registered investment advisory (RIA) firm, today announced its strategic combination with two leading independent financial advisory businesses, Botsford Financial Group (Botsford) and Financial Development Systems (FDS). The move marks Merit's commencement of the next phase of its growth plan, providing the firm with significantly expanded national scale and capabilities, encompassing a total employee base of 60 professionals, as well as total client assets of approximately $2.6 billion, of which $1.3 billion are in Regulatory Assets Under Management and $1.28 billion are in Brokerage Assets Serviced.
Rick Kent, President and Founder of Merit Financial Group, said, "The strategic combination of Merit with Botsford Financial Group and Financial Development Systems is a major milestone that sets us up for considerable future success in serving retail investors, advisors, plan sponsors and benefits consultants in the qualified retirement plan space. By joining forces now, the advisors and clients of each of our firms will benefit with access to enhanced strategies, experience and capabilities that weren't immediately available to our businesses on a stand-alone basis."
Founded in 1995, Merit continues to pursue an industry leadership position in three core areas: Independent financial advice for individuals and families, delivered through its own employee advisors; turnkey financial wellness options for company retirement plan sponsors, retirement plan advisors and third party benefits consultants; and comprehensive Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ) services for retirement plan-focused independent financial advisors affiliated with LPL Financial, the nation's largest independent broker-dealer, as reported in Financial Planning Magazine, June 1996 – 2017, based on total revenue.
Merit's Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction platform delivers compliance supervision, administrative services, marketing solutions, business coaching and investment research, along with diversified investment management strategies through its in-house model portfolios. The firm also provides robust succession planning offerings, including the option to purchase advisors' practices. Merit is one of the largest and fastest-growing Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdictions whose advisors are affiliated with LPL Financial as their broker / dealer.
Key highlights of the strategic combination are:
- Botsford Financial Group – a financial planning firm for high net worth (HNW) clients specializing in retirement and asset preservation planning for successful business owners and senior executives of Fortune 500 companies – will be led by its President, Kay Lynn Mayhue.
- Ms. Mayhue will ensure continuity of service for all Botsford clients while partnering closely with Merit's leadership team to align Botsford's industry-leading HNW strategies and experience with financial advisors across the combined Merit organization. Botsford's comprehensive HNW capabilities will enable Merit to significantly expand its presence in this client segment.
- Erin Botsford, Founder of Botsford Financial Group and a widely-recognized thought leader on investing, risk management and retirement planning, will serve as a Strategic Business Development Officer in order to build further momentum toward Merit's future growth.
- Financial Development Systems, an independent advisory firm that provides holistic wealth management services including investment management and retirement planning, together with income, education and estate planning and tax strategies, is expected to contribute significantly to the success of the combined firm due to its professionals' extensive experience and the firm's large client base, among other factors.
- Merit has served FDS as its OSJ since 2014, while FDS has utilized Merit's investment committee to help guide its risk-managed advisory accounts. FDS will operate as a partner under the Merit brand and platform going forward. Jody Owenby, previously FDS' President, will play a key role in the combined firm as Senior Partner at Merit. Greg Gerhard, previously Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer, will play a key role in the combined firm as a Partner and Chief Internal Strategy Officer.
Erin Botsford, Founder of Botsford Financial Group, said, "I'm thrilled to join forces with Merit Financial Group, an organization that shares our group's passion for constantly raising the bar in the service experience we deliver to our clients. I could not have asked for a better partner to continue to provide our clients with the white-glove treatment they expect and deserve, while investing heavily in the business to drive enhanced services for their needs over the long term."
Jody Owenby, Senior Partner at Merit, said, "Having conducted business through Merit's RIA platform for years, we knew from the beginning that we shared a common vision for growth with Rick Kent and his team. Equally important, Merit's professionalism, ethics and commitment to exceptional client service match FDS' own. We look forward to leveraging the combined strength of our organizations to create a new industry leader in objective financial advice, and to making sure that all of our clients are well cared for."
Mr. Kent added, "Our new dream team positions us to greatly expand our impact in the industry by giving us the breadth of knowledge and capabilities to serve every type of client, from beginner investors to high-net-worth executives. In addition, it will enable us to ramp up our efforts to partner with likeminded advisors through our Registered Investment Advisor who are looking for turnkey investment strategies and long-term planning for their clients and teams through continuity and succession planning, and will drive further partnerships with retirement plan advisors who feel a robust financial wellness program would enhance the services they provide their corporate clients. We thank LPL Financial and our transaction advisor, FP Transitions, for their significant assistance in helping us facilitate this strategic combination."
Andy Kalbaugh, LPL Managing Director and Divisional President, National Sales and Consulting, said, "LPL is proud to be able to deliver the strategic resources and support that help valued clients such as these accelerate their growth. Rick and his leadership team recognize the need to create scale and deepen the service and value they provide to their clients. This is an exciting partnership that will deliver on those needs. We look forward to continuing to serve as an enabling partner to Merit going forward."
About Merit Financial Group
Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Merit Financial Group ("Merit" or "the firm") is an independent registered investment advisory (RIA) firm supporting approximately $2.6 billion in total client assets, of which $1.3 billion are in Regulatory Assets Under Management and $1.28 billion are in Brokerage Assets Serviced. The firm is affiliated with Merit Financial Advisors, a leading independent Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction firm supporting 34 independent financial advisors. The firm partners with RIAs who seek unique, turnkey investment management strategies and strong business continuity and succession planning offerings. Merit also supports the company retirement plan space, and offers the Worksite Financial Wellness platform, a comprehensive offering that provides customized, turnkey financial wellness education, coaching and training resources to retirement plan participants. Merit has a particularly strong geographic footprint throughout the Southeastern region of the United States, with offices in Atlanta, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Davidson, NC; Birmingham, AL; and Frisco TX, in addition to its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia. For more information, please visit www.meritfinancialadvisors.com.
Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Merit Financial Group, LLC, and SEC registered investment adviser. Merit Financial Group, LLC, Merit Financial Advisors, Botsford Financial Group and Financial Development Systems are separate entities from LPL Financial.
SOURCE Merit Financial Group