Merchant Investment Management continues to nibble away at the wealth management space with another minority ownership stake in a $1 billion registered investment adviser. The latest announcement involves Fusion Family Wealth, a Woodbury, New York-based advisory firm with long ties to Merchant managing partner Tim Bello.
Referring to Jonathan Blau, Fusion’s president and chief executive, Bello said, “Jon checks all the boxes.”
“I’ve known Jon and his wife for well over a decade,” Bello said. “Our wives are friends, we’ve gone on vacation together, and Jon started to design and adopt a perspective on behavioral finance that I wanted to learn. He’s checked the box as very close friend, someone who evolved from financial adviser to CEO, and as someone with a focus on growth and quality engagement with his clients.”
Merchant, which has acquired minority interests in nearly 50 companies that collectively amount to approximately $110 billion, distinguishes itself from traditional private equity firms that pool outside assets to invest in private companies.
As Bello describes the structure, the money is moving from the Merchant balance sheet, which is funded by partners in the business, to the balance sheet of the RIA selling an ownership interest.
The partnership brings Fusion into Merchant’s community of partner firms, which will be able to tap into Fusion’s behavioral finance expertise and best practices to enhance their client experiences.
Merchant will deploy its M&A resources and understanding of the independent wealth management space to guide Fusion’s organic and inorganic growth, according to the announcement.
Blau, 54, said the partnership with Merchant will help the RIA establish a succession plan.
Even though Fusion won’t be formally connected to any of the other Merchant partnerships, Blau said the informal connections will lead to expanded resources and sharing of ideas. “We’re going to be working with their other teams, and that will allow me to meet other teams and leaders to identify future succession opportunities.”
In terms of M&A, Blau said that’s not a top priority, but he is looking forward to “the potential to identify people over time.”
“I view [the partnership with Merchant] as an interest in bringing on some of the most progressive young people in the RIA space, and benefitting from that,” he said.
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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.