Two of California's largest wealth management firms announced today they will join forces in the first step toward the combined entity's goal of becoming the nation's largest independent wealth management company.

The merger of Kochis Fitz in San Francisco and Quintile Wealth Management in Los Angeles creates a company with roughly 385 clients and $5 billion in assets. The deal is expected go into effect on January 1, 2008, and the new company will be called Kochis Fitz/Quintile until a permanent name is chosen. It will be headquartered in San Francisco, and will maintain its Quintile office in Los Angeles.

Kochis Fitz, whose forte is the corporate executive market, has a staff of 33 people serving about 320 clients with total assets of $2.5 billion. It's AUM has grown almost 25% annually since 2004. Quintile, whose focus is on the family office market, manages nearly $2.5 billion in assets with a staff of 35 employees. Its annual AUM growth rate since its founding in 2002 is 26%. The combined entity will be the largest independent wealth management and family office business in California, and will rank among the top three largest such firms in the nation based on assets under management. And further expansion is part of the game plan.

"The merger further expands the depth of our collective talent pool, enhances our

client services and capabilities, and creates a solid platform for sustainable long-term growth and stability," said Kochis, who had been looking for ways to grow his operation while remaining independent.

"We believe the combination of our two firms is unique in the industry," said Rob

Francais, Quintile's co-founder and chief executive officer, referring to the marriage of his company's family office expertise with Kochis Fitz's personal wealth management strengths.

Kochis will be CEO of the combined company until mid-to late 2009 and Francais will be the chief operating officer. He will succeed Kochis as CEO by the end of 2009, when Kochis plans to shift his focus to working with clients and continuing in his role as one of the industry's leading voices.

Eighteen new principals from both firms were named equity participants in the new company, boosting the number of employee-owners of the combined company to 32, which they say gives it one of the highest proportions of owner-operators among wealth management firms.