CAPTRUST Acquires Chicago-Based Ellwood Associates

A total of 55 Ellwood employees, including 46 consultants, will be joining CAPTRUST, including a seasoned team of investment consultants.

Nearly two months after making its 50th acquisition, CAPTRUST Financial Advisors announced it has purchased Ellwood Associates, another established advisory firm.

Based in Chicago, Ellwood is expected to add about 200 clients representing $85 billion in assets to CAPTRUST. The firm serves endowments and foundations, retirement plans, hospitals, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals.

A total of 55 Ellwood employees, including 46 consultants, will be joining CAPTRUST, including a team of investment consultants with an average of 20 years of industry experience.

Ellwood leader Timothy Egan will join CAPTRUST as a principal. He says his team knew it wanted to be a part of a majority employee-owned firm to continue its existing legacy of employee ownership. In addition to a sizeable endowment and foundation practice, the firms say Ellwood will also bring added alternative investment expertise to the CAPTRUST investment team.

“Ellwood has long been a firm that we have admired for its dedication to its clients,” says Rick Shoff, CAPTRUST managing director, adviser group. “As with all of the firms that join us, we believe Ellwood will make us better from day one and provide access to new offerings that our entire firm will benefit from.”

Shoff notes the addition of the Ellwood team will give CAPTRUST its first location in Chicago, as well as a bolstered presence in Denver. The firm added its first Denver location last year, when Shine Wealth Partners joined CAPTRUST. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021. Consistent with other firms that have joined CAPTRUST, Ellwood will transition to the CAPTRUST name and brand after the close.

Due in no small part to CAPTRUST’s buying spree, but also thanks to the acquisition activity of other series acquirer firms such as Hub International and SageView, retirement plan advisory firm merger and acquisition (M&A) activity remains at record levels. According to data provided by the M&A advisory firm Wise Rhino, after 13 and 26 advisory firm transactions in 2018 and 2019, respectively, 2020 saw 33 transactions, with another 22 posted in the first quarter of 2021 alone. As the team at Wise Rhino Group explains, these deal levels reflect the ongoing trend of retirement and wealth advisory firm consolidation.

According to Wise Rhino team, one fact that is clear amid the flurry of M&A action is that few of these deals represent a pure walk-away sale. For the typical advisory firm owner who is looking to use his business equity as his own retirement nest egg, the process of selling is not just going to be a matter of handing over the keys to the castle and getting a big paycheck. Instead, acquirers expect selling advisers to remain part of the business for years and potentially decades to come, driving further organic growth.