They say bigger’s better on Bay Street. But it could also be tougher.

For Richardson GMP, its plan to buy Macquarie Private Wealth means some challenges melding compensation structures and firm cultures of the Canadian and Australian firms.

“It’s been just over 30 days since our announcement [to buy Macquarie] and we’ve visited every office three times in four weeks,” Andrew Marsh, president and CEO of Richardson GMP, tells “The effort has really been to get to know everybody, how their business works and what’s working for them.”

Read: Richardson GMP buys Macquarie Private Wealth

Richardson GMP, the wealth management unit of independent broker-dealer GMP Capital Inc., is set to acquire the Canadian wealth arm of Australia’s Macquarie Group for $132 million in a deal expected to close by year’s end. The transaction will more than double Richardson GMP’s advisor teams from 115 to almost 300, and bring assets from just over $15 billion to $28 billion, making it Canada’s biggest independent wealth manager.

A key issue Richardson GMP will have to settle at the end of 2014 (roughly a year post-acquisition) is combining the compensation structure of the two firms — particularly for Macquarie’s top producers, who stand to earn less if they are to absorb Richardson GMP’s pay grid.

Those who produce more than $1 million in commissions and fees annually at Macquarie currently receive 52% of their production, plus 4% in stock. Richardson GMP’s $1-million producers, on the other hand, are paid 50% of their production but they also own a bigger equity position at the firm, according to people familiar with the two firms’ pay schemes.

Read: Advisors shocked by Macquarie sale

Richardson GMP is privately held by its advisors and its management team; GMP Capital Inc.; and Richardson Financial Group, a subsidiary of James Richardson & Sons. It formed in 2009 when Richardson Financial Group and GMP Capital Inc. combined their wealth management units. At the time, both the Richardson family and GMP Capital owned 35% each of Richardson GMP, and the advisors and managers held 30%.

But the advisor-and-manager share has risen since the merger — by the end of 2013, their equity clout is expected to reach 38%, with the rest to be evenly held by GMP Capital and the Richardson family, according to Marsh.

With Macquarie advisors soon joining the fold, the plan is to make them equity owners as well at Richardson GMP, “which changes the dynamics of the discussions from what the grid is going to be to what’s the bottom line and what are the dividends,” says Marsh.

Read: Advisors prefer independent firms: survey

Richardson GMP has yet to lay out partnership details for Macquarie advisors, but Dan Richards, an industry consultant, says Macquarie folks should easily warm up to their new culture given that they’re naturally entrepreneurial.

“The integration challenges will be dramatically less than if Macquarie had been sold to a bank-owned firm,” says Richards.

But ironing out payout differences isn’t everything. Richardson GMP will also have to contend with Macquarie Private Wealth’s close ties with the capital markets arm of Macquarie Group, which has more global scope and bigger research resources compared to GMP Capital’s investment banking unit.

Some Macquarie advisors also fear that support for their charitable endeavors, such as the matching program on proceeds for fundraising events, could be cut. “[Macquarie] did many things that are not common in the industry,” says Richards.

Read: How to tell clients you switched firms

The number of Macquarie advisors who have left since September’s acquisition announcement isn’t public. But earlier this month, two Macquarie teams with combined assets of almost $3 million defected to CIBC, including Andrei Reminovski’s team in Markham, Ont., says a person familiar with the move. Reminovski didn’t return a call for comment at CIBC, and a bank spokeswoman confirmed the moves but declined to comment on the production figures.

Marsh, however, says he would be happy with a retention rate of 75%. Regardless of who’s retained, Richardson GMP is paying $132 million. That’s contrary to common acquisition practices, where the purchase price hinges on the number of brokers and the asset level retained at the deal’s close.

Richardson GMP has yet to finalize its future management team. The future of Earl Evans, head of Macquarie Private Wealth in Canada, is still under discussion, says Marsh. However, Marsh vows to maintain Richardson GMP’s flat organizational structure to retain close ties between advisors and senior management.

“While we are happy being the largest independent firm, we don’t intend to lose that boutique culture,” says Marsh.

Read: Small firms fight for survival

But the boutique firm has more ambitious plans ahead. Marsh wants to increase Richardson GMP’s assets to between $30 billion and $40 billion over the next three to four years, and sees the firm as a “consolidator” in the independent space, signaling more potential future acquisitions.

“It can continue to grow to be in a position where we’re the only strong competitor to an industry that’s being more and more controlled by the banks,” says Marsh. “That’s very important for our industry.”

Evelyn Juan is a Toronto-based financial journalist who writes about the wealth management sector. Follow her @evelynjuan on Twitter.