MiB: Doubling in Size through M&A



How do you double the size of a firm during a pandemic?

If you are Dave Welling the CEO of Mercer Advisors, you use all of the technological tools at your disposal to do acquisitions, despite this being a “knee cap to knee cap” business. He explains how the firm, which has been around for 35 years, began to grow through acquisitions four years ago.  The Denver-based RIA now has 450 employees and manages more than $21 billion. Welling was named “RIA Firm Leader of the Year” by Wealth Management magazine.

His nontraditional career path included experience in consulting, private equity and technology giving him a unique perspective on the financial services business. He explains the process the firm uses to identify, fund and negotiate acquisitions: part of the answer is focusing on succession planning for small firm owners. He notes that deal structures have evolved due to plentiful private equity capital in an era of very low rates. Private investors in RIAs get a steady cash flow, effectively creating a high yielding investment.

We discuss his joining Schwab in 1997, instead of Amazon (!). He did not believe that the Seattle start up represented the best path for him, and he has never looked back at that decision. We also discuss the lack of diversity in the financial services industry, which Welling describes as “Male, Pale & Stale.” He explains Mercer Advisor women’s initiative called InvestHERs — designed to promote diversity in the advisor industry.

A list of his favorite books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesSpotifyStitcherGoogle, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Sébastien Page, head of  T. Rowe Price’s Multi-Asset Division, which manages $363.5 billion. T. Rowe Price’s total AUM was $1.31 trillion.


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