Johnson Financial Group closes on Cleary Gull Advisors acquisition

Racine bank joins forces with Milwaukee RIA

Racine-based Johnson Financial Group on Tuesday completed its previously announced acquisition of Milwaukee-based registered investment advisor Cleary Gull Advisors Inc.

Tom Bolger

Johnson Financial is the $4 billion parent company of Johnson Bank and Johnson Insurance.

Cleary Gull Advisors offers RIA and wealth management services. It split off from the investment banking arm of Cleary Gull Inc. in the transaction. Its remaining stock was purchased by the 18 employees in the investment banking division.

Cleary Gull has 40 employees, all of whom will become Johnson Financial Group employees and continue to work out of the same downtown Milwaukee office. Johnson Financial will move an indeterminate number of its employees into Cleary Gull’s offices in the 100 E. Wisconsin building this summer, said Michael Cleary, president of the combined company.

“Certainly people affiliated with the research department and the wealth group are candidates to move,” Cleary said.

Together, Johnson Financial and Cleary Gull have $9 billion in assets under administration and will offer customized investment management, fiduciary trust services and retirement plan services for both individuals and businesses. The combined name is Cleary Gull Advisors Inc., a Johnson Financial Group Company.

“We’re certainly one of the largest independent, privately-held investment advisors in the state and probably relatively large in the country,” Cleary said. “One of the things that we felt also is the industry is going to a broader array of products and services and it’s ultimately good for the client and that’s where the growth is.”


Cleary will work with Daniel Kaminski, executive vice president of wealth for Johnson Financial, to integrate the firms.

The technology integration has been completed, Cleary said, but the people integration is ahead.

“With Cleary Gull Advisors, we bring together a quality investment team with a loyal customer base, a successful affinity pilot program and a cohesive institutional business program,” Kaminski said.

“As a privately held organization, we’re in a unique position to combine our fiduciary and investment advisory businesses and together create one of the largest privately-owned investment advisory firms based in Wisconsin,” said Thomas Bolger, president and chief executive officer of Johnson Financial Group. “We continually look for ways to strengthen our capabilities, and the combination of Cleary Gull gives us deeper investment capabilities. We see a similar culture based on strong values and a commitment to service excellence that aligns with what’s truly important to customers—partnering with a trusted advisor.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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