Wealth Enhancement Group Acquires $4.7B North Carolina Firm

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Wealth Enhancement Group is acquiring Carroll Financial Associates, a Charlotte, N.C.–based independent RIA with about $4.7 billion in client assets. The deal is the largest in WEG’s history and will bump its total client assets to $45.45 billion.

Carroll Financial Associates was founded in 1980 by Larry W. Carroll and is currently headed by his son, CEO Kristopher W. Carroll. In addition to its Charlotte base, the firm has locations in Raleigh, N.C. and Rock Hill, S.C. The firm touts its expertise in financial, retirement and estate planning, as well as investment and transition management with clients throughout North and South Carolina.

Carroll’s will mark the first WEG offices located in the Carolinas, giving it a chance to work with clients in Charlotte and the surrounding region while extending its reach into the broader Southeast, according to the firm. 

In an interview with WealthManagement.com, WEG CEO Jeff Dekko said he’s known the firm’s principals for some time and was honored to be partnering with them. He also noted the acquisition was different from many of WEG’s deals in the past and that Carroll Financial was a sizable firm and fully capable in its own right.

“For us, what’s exciting about it is, if you follow along with our activities, we’ve wanted to grow this organization and do it thoughtfully by adding people or inorganic activity, but very tight geographically, most of our events have happened between Boston and Baltimore. We believe local scale matters,” he said. “We’ve been working our way down the East Coast, and this is really a natural progression for us.

It’s been a busy year of integrations for WEG; the Carroll Financial acquisition is its 11th in 2021. In August, WEG purchased Investor Solutions, a $1.1 billion Miami-based firm that brough six additional advisors into the fold. Also last month, WEG acquired Serafini Financial Group, a Maryland-based firm with $853 million in client assets; the firm joined WEG from Commonwealth Financial Network. 

In total, WEG’s added 83 advisors and approximately $12.5 billion in assets since the beginning of June, in comparison with almost $7 billion throughout all of 2020 and about $4.5 billion in 2019. Other WEG acquisitions this year include the April deal with Pillar Pacific Capital Management, its first California firm, followed by the acquisition of Los Angeles–based Oakwood Capital Management. The firm has also picked up acquisitions in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast.

Dekko noted that Carroll Financial was such a strong fit, but that the deal isn’t necessarily an indication they’re going after larger firms. He expects WEG to continue to fill out in the areas where it currently existed, though he anticipates more activity to come in California. 

“When we went there, we definitely knew it wasn’t going to be one and done,” he said, speaking about the expansion into the Golden State. “Essentially, where we were in 2015 in the East is where we are now in California.”

Late last month, the private equity firm Onex Corp. invested in WEG, joining TA Associates as equal capital partners in the firm in an attempt to support WEG’s organic growth and M&A strategy. With the investment, WEG retained its independence and its leadership team, which includes Dekko in the firm’s top spot.

In the case of WEG’s acquisition of Carroll Financial, Larry Carroll will be a senior vice president with WEG, while Kristopher Carroll will become a managing director with WEG; Carroll’s brokerage assets will be moved to LPL Financial as a part of the deal, which is set to close by Nov. 1.

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