SageView Acquisitions Add to Financial Wellness-Focused Wealth Manager Push

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SageView Advisory Group this week completed its ninth acquisition of retirement and wealth management advisers in the past 18 months with a deal for Colorado-based asset management firm Horsetooth Financial.

SageView also announced closing the acquisition of Lakeview Wealth Management, a six-woman team managing assets of $415 million, in Deer Park, Illinois.

Both acquisitions further SageView’s push to bring on wealth managers that lead their practices with “basic bootstrap financial planning” in regions of need, CEO Randy Long told PLANADVISER. But they also serve the individual client base that one of the country’s largest retirement plan advisories targets: those with savings in the $800,000 to $1 million range that many of the larger broker/dealers do not focus.

“We see this as an underserved marketplace,” Long said on a call with PLANADVISER. “A lot of the wirehouses, if a person doesn’t have $1 million, they don’t want to talk to them.”

The acquisition push has come roughly two years after private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners took a majority stake in SageView, noting in particular its continued push to expand its financial wellness offerings as “wealth management and retirement services converge.”

More Wealth to Come

Long says the push into managing the wealth of everyday retirement savers initially came from SageView’s plan sponsor client base.

“More and more of our plan sponsors were asking if they could get the same non-conflicted fiduciary advice to participants that we were giving to them,” Long says. “We had always done education from our retirement plan partners, and more and more of our clients were wanting that independent voice to help the participants.

This business strategy has most recently led to an even split of acquisitions between retirement and wealth management in the past 18 months. In 2023 and beyond, however, the firm that came to wealth management by “accident” may be focused mainly on those types of add-ons.

SageView is by no means the only advisory shop that has been buying up smaller retirement advisers in a quickly aging, ripe-for-consolidation space. Rival CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, along with newer retirement, wealth management and benefit aggregators such as Hub International and OneDigital Investment Advisors have all been acquiring retirement firms, too.

There are fewer of them left,” Long says of retirement advisories. That’s not the case, however, for registered investment advisers. “There are a tremendous amount of RIAs who are in their 60s with no succession plan.”

2023 Planning

In 2023, SageView will continue looking for firms who start with financial wellness and holistic retirement planning as a “blueprint,” Long says. The firm likes advisers with Certified Financial Planning certificates who can address the full picture of a person’s financial life, from their existing assets to social security distributions to potential future inheritance. When firms join SageView, the parent company works to integrate acquired advisers into the asset management fold within the first 12 months, the CEO says.

“We want them to take on our brand and have a consistent client experience and consistent client deliverable,” Long says. “We want them fully integrated, not just on an affiliation model.”

Diversity and inclusion will also continue to be a focus, both in acquiring companies like the woman-led Lakeview team or bringing on new employees.

“We’re looking to provide opportunities for people who have not had a chance in the industry yet, and we’re very intentional about that,” Long says.

The firm will also continue to champion developments in the retirement space, including proposed legislation in SECURE 2.0 for student loan debt payments to be matched by an employer as retirement plan contributions.

Higher interest rates, as well as market volatility, may push along advancements such as in-plan retirement income options and adviser managed accounts, Long says. Such advancements are important as more and more Americans move out of the defined contribution asset accumulation stage to figuring out how to live off their savings in retirement.

“So much of our time was focused on accumulation,” he says. “Now it’s all about the decumulation phase: how much to withdraw, where to withdraw from, tax considerations … it’s very vanilla, but people need basic financial planning.”