Creative Planning’s latest acquisition feeds record-setting merger activity

The $48 billion RIA adds another $618 million with Stratford Consulting deal

Creative Planning on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Stratford Consulting, an Addison, Texas-based advisory firm with $618 million under management.

Overland Park, Kansas-based Creative Planning is one of the nation’s largest registered investment advisers with $48 billion in total assets under management, operating in all 50 states.

In a prepared statement, Creative Planning chief executive Peter Mallouk said Stratford Consulting will enhance the RIA’s “substantial presence” in the Dallas metropolitan area.

He said the owners “embody the values we cherish most: a consultative, needs-based view towards investing and a naturally collaborative approach with their clients. It is a privilege to have the Stratford Consulting team join Creative Planning.”

Stratford Consulting owners Susan Schildt and Michael Hemp built the advisory firm with a focus on high-net-worth clients, and the deal with Creative Planning was described as unanticipated.

“As a boutique comprehensive financial planning RIA, we did not anticipate finding that a national firm would be a fit for us,” Ms. Schildt said in a statement.

“In Creative Planning we have found a company with deep resources and an outstanding reputation that also shares our view of how to best treat and work with clients,” she added.

The deal continues a pattern of consolidation in the RIA space that has been gaining momentum for at least a decade, with no immediate end in sight.

According to separate reports out Wednesday morning from Fidelity Investments and DeVoe & Co., M&A activity among RIAs continues to set records.

The Fidelity research shows deal activity in 2019 was up 40% from the prior year, and 74% of firms are expecting to complete more deals in the year ahead.

The DeVoe research, which is calculated using similar
but not identical metrics, reports that RIA deals in 2019 were up 30% from the prior year and that the 132 deals last year marked the sixth-straight year or record-setting
M&A activity.

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