Mariner Wealth Advisors, the ever-expanding Leawood, Kan., firm run by Martin Bicknell, has launched an office in Chicago to be run by Keith Plywaczynski, a senior wealth advisor coming over from Capstone Financial Advisors.
At Capstone, Plywaczynski advised $260 million in client assets and he was also involved in establishing new client relationships, said Mariner in a statement.
The new office will be a base for new hires, says Bicknell. Plywaczynski approached Mariner about joining the firm, he adds. Mariner already had clients in the Windy City being served by other offices.
"At this point, it's too early to say how much the Chicago office will be managing in assets," says Bicknell. "Given what we've said about the opportunity in that market, it has the potential to be one of our larger offices."
The Chicago partnership is just the most recent feather in Mariner’s cap amid its aggressive expansion, with the ink barely dry on a few summer deals. Less than two months ago, the firm announced its push into four other cities: St. Louis; San Francisco; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Oklahoma City.
Bicknell told Financial Advisor then that he wanted a Chicago office but had not yet found anybody there who fit his culture. Mariner, which he founded in 2006, is focused on helping executives, entrepreneurs and wealthy families with holistic financial planning services and looks for acquisition partners who already have an emotional closeness to clients.
“We don’t go put pins on a map and say we want to be in city X,” Bicknell said in July. “We tried that strategy before and it really didn’t work very well for us. So we took a step back and took a bigger picture approach. We broadly look for the right individuals, and once we find them we make a determination if that’s the market we want to be in.”
The company has also bought outlets in San Diego, Cincinnati, New York, Indianapolis and Omaha and boasts New Jersey offices as well. Its largest purchase, announced at the beginning of 2015, was Vantage Investment Advisors, a 14-member team located in State College, Pa., with $1 billion in AUM.
The original plan for Mariner was that it would be a consultancy for high-net-worth individuals. But Bicknell, an heir to a Pizza Hut franchise fortune, had deep pockets at the beginning and found a lot of distressed financial firms on the block. The purchase of one manager in need, Tortoise Capital Advisors, a specialist in energy infrastructure master limited partnerships, gave him a foundation to build out Mariner’s huge asset management component.
Since then, Mariner has bought other types of financial services companies to bulk up its service component: alternative asset managers, an investment bank, an insurance company and an accounting firm as well as RIAs. The two sides of the business, financial planning and investment management, have fed off each other, Bicknell has said. This summer, the firm said it had $14 billion in assets at its RIA firms and $23 billion at its asset managers.