Buckingham Strategic Wealth LLC, a registered investment advisor in St. Louis, has agreed to acquire Bellevue, Wash.-based Dental Wealth Advisors (DWA) LLC, an RIA managing $141 million in assets for a niche clientele of dental practices, the company said.

DWA provides fee-only investment management support primarily to dentists and dental practice personnel during and after their professional careers. Sam Martin, senior wealth advisor of the firm, said in a news release that the partnership with Buckingham was a natural fit for his business.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a team of the best minds in the business, providing my clients with access to the latest financial tools and services, as well as Buckingham’s powerful collective wisdom,” he said. “Buckingham will also assume responsibility for our back office advisory functions, so my team and I can focus on what we do best—helping clients achieve their financial and life objectives. Buckingham’s evidence-driven methodology aligns with our philosophy on client service, and we can’t wait to be part of the team.”

In an email, Martin discussed the founding of his niche practice in 2003. He said his financial planning and investment management firm was a spin-off of a larger local CPA firm catering primarily to physicians and dentists, with the goal of targeting a broader range of services to a narrower audience of healthcare professionals.

“Our goal was to work with clients for whom we could make a profound difference in their financial lives,” he said in the email. “Dentists typically have small businesses, but higher earnings from them.”

Martin said that it soon became clear that although many of the firm’s dental clients earned a comfortable living from their practice, most did not have a financial plan for their future or a retirement plan once they stopped working.

“We started the practice by offering clients financial planning services,” he said, “but Buckingham is getting our RIA off the ground by enabling us to plan and implement long-term, evidence-based portfolio management that complements our existing services.”

Financial Advisor asked Martin what made his firm’s niche clientele so unique when it came to wealth management.

“The combination of a complex, but very small business, coupled with a high-earning owner lend themselves to coordinated planning,” he said. “Dove-tailing the practice cash flow with the personal financial planning funding goals is very powerful, especially having dental CPAs under the same roof who can make a difference in the profitability and cash flow of the dental practice.”

Financial Advisor asked Martin what Buckingham would be able to offer his practice that would elevate its client experience and scale its growth. 

“We expect that being free of business management responsibilities will allow us to focus more time and effort serving our clients,” Martin said. “Further, the many resources available and abundance of ongoing learning experiences will likewise elevate our client service. We could not be more excited or honored to join the Buckingham team.”

Adam Birenbaum, CEO of Buckingham Strategic Wealth, said, “We have known Sam for nearly two decades and share many of the same values and principles, consistently putting clients’ interest first and basing our investment and planning strategies on evidence-based research."

In an email, Birenbaum spoke about what special challenges an affiliate partner such as Buckingham faces when it partners with an advisory practice focused on a niche clientele.

“In the case of Dental Wealth and Sam Martin, we are fortunate that such challenges did not exist,” he said. “The dental specialty is one in which Buckingham has existing and extensive expertise, as well as a focused and well-staffed practice area. In fact, building out a variety of practice areas, much like a law firm, is a strategy and a priority for us. We believe that being a comprehensive wealth management firm is necessary, and that firms absolutely need to build out niche or specialized expertise and experiences that differentiate them to add true, differentiated value for clients.”

Financial Advisor asked Birenbaum what Buckingham looked for in a prospective affiliate partner, and what it steered clear of in one.

“Buckingham is very selective in our acquisition process,” he said in the email. “We know that finding advisors who are truly aligned is essential to building a durable, sustainable firm. That what we’re trying to build – an enduring partnership – which sadly seems rarer and rarer in the independent wealth management space.”

Birenbaum said that he and his team looked for potential partners who were fee-only fiduciaries that shared Buckingham’s commitment to an evidence-driven investment philosophy and an evidence-driven deep planning approach. Many do not make the cut; he said that his firm filtered out north of 90% of prospective advisors because they did not meet those exacting standards. But for those advisors who shared Buckingham’s passion to progress, serve, and do right, the sky’s the limit, according to Birenbaum.

“Our mission statement really does come to life in how we approach our roles, our clients, and one another,” he said in the email.

Dental Wealth Advisors will become part of Buckingham Strategic Wealth upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1994, Buckingham Strategic Wealth has 45 offices in 22 states, and as of June 30, 2022, reported overseeing $20.86 billion in regulatory assets under management.