The news of IA Financial’s buy of HollisWealth is still fresh, but advisors from HollisWealth are already on the move.
Echelon Wealth Partners has acquired a team from HollisWealth. The advisors are Brian Mercer, vice-president and portfolio manager of Mercer Private Counsel, and his team: Frank Hubbs, associate investment advisor; Jolene Vandewiel, executive assistant; and Becky Mercer, office administrator.
David Cusson, CEO of Echelon Wealth Partners, tells Advisor.ca, “This announcement is unrelated to the IA transaction. We also signed one advisor from HollisWealth last month in Calgary, and other advisors will be joining us soon from multiple platforms. But these moves aren’t about what Hollis is doing; they’re about what we’re doing.”
However, Cusson adds, “there has been a marked increase in inbound inquiries since this week’s announcement [about IA Financial].”
Says Mercer, “Certainly, we were trying to get out in front of [the IA news],” though he confirms his team’s decision wasn’t based on that acquisition. “When I was looking for a new firm that would allow [us] to continue to grow, I was looking for three things: complete independence; a firm where the client came first; and a firm with fully-accessible management so I could talk to [them] at any time.”
“This move wasn’t about what wasn’t working at HollisWealth but about the structure at Echelon,” he adds. “It was too good a bid to ignore.”
Cusson notes Echelon didn’t have a presence in Southwestern Ontario, but now will. And, coming off a year in which Echelon acquired more than 70 advisors from Dundee Goodman Private Wealth, he sees more opportunities for growth in the coming year.
Mercer and his team will work in a new full-service office in London, Ont.—Echelon will now have seven wealth management branches in Canada. Mercer will operate under the Echelon banner but retain his trade name, Mercer Private Counsel. Cusson notes the advisors “overwhelmingly retained their client base” on news of the move.
Mercer confirms his client base is happy with the shift: “Our team is extremely excited because, at the end of day, we’re going to be close to 100% asset retention. That’s very rare. We take a very client-centric approach and that’s paying dividends in this move, given people are very appreciative of that and they’re very attached to Mercer Private Counsel.”
Further, says Cusson, “The team is meaningful [in terms of size]. Our average book size, based on advisor count, is about $50 million and [Mercer] is substantially larger than that.” Mercer adds his AUM is “closer to $85 million at this point.”
To date, Echelon has more than 90 investment advisors and portfolio managers, with approximately $4 billion in assets. The firm has offices across Canada and in Tokyo.
Mercer and his team focus on retirees, business owners, professionals and corporate clients.