Fiduciary Network (FN), the holding company created by Mark Hurley and financed by New York investor Howard Milstein, has purchased a minority interest in Brightworth, an Atlanta-area advisory firm with $717 million in assets and about 260 clients.
   Unlike FN's previous deals, the Brightworth transaction involved raising capital for long-term strategic business planning, not transition planning, according to Hurley. All four of the firm's partners plan to stay on at least ten years and they were "looking for a currency" to help grow the business tenfold over the next decade.
   Chris Dardaman, CEO of Brightworth, says, "This gives us capital to promote people internally, bring in people from the outside and, if we find the right fit, possibly acquire a firm. It will also allow us to continue to provide high-quality service to existing clients while continuing growing the firm." Brightworth currently has four partners and 22 other employees.
   Sources say several smaller firms in the Atlanta have had casual discussions about merging their firms into Brightworth, which recently expanded from its suburban Norcross location to a second office in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. Dardaman downplayed these reports and said there were no big plans in the works. "We're friends with a lot of people in Atlanta and around the country, but we're not in a hurry to acquire firms. It would have to be the right fit," he says.
   For Hurley and FN, which bought stakes in Regent Atlantic in Chatham, N.J.and Evensky & Katz in Coral Gables, Fla., the Brightworth represents "a fascinating change" in the orientation of his firm, which he originally thought was more of a transition and equity-recycling vehicle. He claims to be working on several similar transactions and notes that Brightworth partners gave up only a sliver of their equity so they could obtain a currency.
   "Good firms today don't have trouble getting clients," Hurley says. "The single biggest problem they have is in the competition for good employees." Granting employees equity can provide firms with an attractive set of "handcuffs" to retain them.