Amid a wave of consolidation in the financial planning sector, Lancaster-based Domani Wealth has been purchased by a larger firm based in Illinois.
- The acquisition is the fourth this year for the firm, Savant Wealth Management, which is based in Rockford, west of Chicago.
- Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Domani will keep its existing leadership, advisers and offices in Hanover, Lancaster, Wyomissing and York.
- The transaction follows a decision about 18 months ago by Domani’s leaders to consider a sale, according to the firm’s COO, Angie Stephenson,
- “It was becoming very evident that this consolidation was happening around us and so we made the decision as an organization that we wanted to at least explore those options,” Stephenson said.
- It also was becoming harder for firms of Domani’s size to themselves grow through acquisition, since they must compete with larger firms also in the market for deals, she said.
- Domani managed assets of about $1.53 billion while Savant managed about $18 billion before the merger, which was effective May 9.
What’s size got to do with it: Larger firms offer a broader array of services resources that are harder to replicate at the smaller-firm level, said Stephenson and Savant founder and CEO Brent Brodeski.
- Savant, for example, has specialists in financial issues faced by divorced clients, Stephenson said.
- Savant also has a CPA practice, which can help clients with tax-planning issues, she said. “That was one thing that we really liked.”
- Another attraction is Savant’s learning and development department, which offers staff members resources for professional growth, Stephenson said. “They have people that are just focused on that.”
- In addition, Stephenson said, the combination with a larger firm allows her and her colleagues to shed some of their operational responsibilities and focus on clients.
- “We want our people to be able to do what they do best. What they do best is being in front of clients and helping them,” she said, noting that fees will not change and local staff will remain in place.
What about the buyer: The acquisition expands Savant’s presence in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic following its purchase last fall of SFG Investment Advisors in Doylestown.
- “We’re all in on Pennsylvania now with five offices,” said Brodeski. “I see that as an opportunity to continue to expand.”
- He also sees potential synergies between offices. Domani, for example, can tap into the expertise of SFG in serving public-company executives, Brodeski said.
- Savant, which has more than 400 employees, now has offices in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- It was founded in 1986.
Are roles changing: Yes.
- Stephenson and Thomas Williams, CEO of Domani, are becoming owners and managing directors at Savant.
- Angela Berkosky, Domani’s chief investment officer, has been named a director in Savant’s investment leadership group.
- Domani’s remaining equity partners are becoming owners in Savant, which is two-thirds-owned by employees.
- Outside investors — New York-based investment firm Kelso & Company and Utah-based family office The Cynosure Group — hold minority stakes, according to Brodeski (pictured below). He noted that employees have a controlling stake.
The background: Domani was founded in 1995 as ParenteBeard Wealth Management under the umbrella of the former ParenteBeard accounting firm.
- The company became independent following the sale of ParenteBeard to Chicago-based BakerTilly.
- The firm changed its name to Domani in 2017.
- In 2019, Domani acquired Lancaster-based EHD Advisory Services.
The trend: The Domani acquisition is one of several involving Central Pennsylvania wealth management firms in recent years.
- Harrisburg-based FMA Advisory was sold in October 2021 to Fairport Wealth, the Cleveland-based arm of a larger advisory firm in Chicago called Hightower.
- In August 2022, Lancaster-based ISI Financial Group became part of Greenspring Advisors, based in Towson, Maryland.