Mariner Wealth Advisors seeking Milwaukee acquisitions

Kansas firm plans to expand into market

Overland Park, Kansas-based Mariner Wealth Advisors plans to expand into the Milwaukee suburbs, and is seeking to acquire wealth management firms or hire wealth management professionals in this market.

The company, which has more than $14.7 billion in assets under advisement and operated in 17 cities, announced today it would start operating in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Detroit suburbs. Mariner operates as a holding company, with 28 acquired firms under its umbrella. On average, it owns about 70 percent of each of those businesses, said Marty Bicknell, president and chief executive officer of Mariner.

According to Mariner, its “partner firms” continue to operate their businesses as usual, but add expertise and get more advice from Mariner. The companies it acquires have expanded by about 50 percent in assets under advisement, on average, within a few years of joining Mariner, the firm said.

Bicknell said it’s about 50-50 whether Mariner acquires a firm or hires several advisors when it enters a new market. Since it’s headquartered in a Kansas City suburb, it made sense for Mariner to target the Milwaukee suburbs as a similar market, he said.

“We don’t have a ton of traction yet, but (Milwaukee is) definitely a market that we’re very interested in and we’ll be working hard to try to partner with somebody,” Bicknell said.

The 70-30 acquisition approach is often attractive to firms who would like to accelerate their growth or set up a succession plan, he said.

“Our sweet spot’s kind of the $300 million to billionish (in assets under advisement),” Bicknell said. “Of the 28 firms we own today, they range from $250 million to $20 billion. The one that’s $20 billion was $1.3 billion when we bought it.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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