United Capital Financial Advisers LLC has recruited Capital Investment Counsel (CIC), a 23-person advisory firm formerly owned by Compass Bank with offices in Denver, Scottsdale and Tucson, to its partnership, the firm announced today.

This is the largest addition of advisors in United Capital's 10-year history. Like past affiliations with United Capital that have involved outright acquisitions of smaller RIA firms, this arrangement entails the CIC advisors becoming equity partners and employees.

Industry observers expect United Capital to continue to pursue this new strategy, given that it will need to add bigger and bigger firms to grow its top line in a meaningful way. Terms of the transaction between United Capital and Compass Bank were not disclosed.

Formed in 1990 as a subsidiary of Compass Bank, the team at CIC is responsible for managing more than $2 billion in assets, across 1,600 relationships. Their average client has approximately $1.3 million in investable assets, according to the release.

Four former CIC principals -- Stephen Dreiling, Jason Rosener, Chris Johnson and Brian McDowell -- all join United Capital as managing directors.

“We’re thrilled. I don’t think we could have chosen a better partner,” says Rosener. “The tools and resources United Capital brings to the table are a great opportunity for us and our firm as a whole.”

Also joining are eight wealth advisors along with all former CIC employees serving in operational and support roles. Each has received stock in United Capital and/or a hiring bonus, according to the release.

“We’ve been in a position where we’ve not been able to invest in our people, our technology, our resources and now we are,” says Rosener. “To be a $5 billion firm doesn’t seem difficult. We’ve now got a firm that wants to support our growth initiatives.”

“This is a recruitment,” says Matt Brinker, senior vice president of partner development and acquisitions at United Capital. The firms long-term plan is to move away from acquisition strategies, says Brinker, “and move towards having teams join United Capital and leverage our platform to improve the client experience, and to leverage our technology so our partners will have more time to grow their business and not manage the operations.”