Los Angeles-based wealth advisory firm Lido Advisors has struck its fifth M&A deal this year, adding a Florida Merrill Lynch team with some $700 million in assets, it said Tuesday.

Lido has brought on board Boca Raton’s Robert Marton and John Bute, formerly of Marton Bute Marcus Wealth Management Group of Merrill Lynch, as well as two client associates.

According to Brad Hixson, Lido’s executive vice president, the Marton Bute team is helping Lido both build out its geographic footprint on the East Coast and adding to its tax planning expertise. Marton, who joins as managing director, and Bute, who joins as director, are known for their focus on high-net-worth strategies, tax mitigation and planning, Hixson says.

The firm’s total AUM after the new team joins will be around $5.5 billion. The firm started the year with $4 billion, according to its ADV. That was before a series of tuck-ins and new partnerships allowed it a new bloom. In January, the firm started off by bringing on Ken Stern & Associates, a San Diego firm with $400 million. Over the summer, Lido hopped from the West Coast to the East Coast with its July purchase of Coliseum Wealth in Rockville, Md., bringing on $50 million. In September, Erica Ghotra joined the firm as vice president, bringing over $60 million.

The firm also has a pending purchase of a fixed-income team, First Western Financial, with $400 million.

Until 2018, Lido had spent its first 18 years growing organically, but in 2018 started laying the groundwork for a cross-country expansion via talent grab. Hixson joined Lido last year for that very purpose—helping the firm build out after working with them at his old firm, Fidelity Institutional. “It was a sketched out plan as to how we’re going to expand nationally. We spent much of 2018 just getting in shape for that. Systems-wise. Technology-wise. Staffing-wise. You have to have the infrastructure in place when you do this. … Ultimately it ends up being technology and support.”

Jason Ozur, senior managing director and president of Lido, said in May that the firm got its start in family offices and works in estate planning and wealth management for high-net-worth individuals, saying their assets range from $5 million to $500 million. The Los Angeles base has put the firm close to entertainment industry clients, but he also said tech has offered a base of new clientele as well.

Hixson says that the Florida move makes the firm looks at different strategies that are going to be beneficial to other clients, whether they are in New York, Denver, Los Angeles, etc.

“The focus on fixed income management is something we’re definitely looking to enhance and build,” he says referring to the demands they might see in Florida. “We want to be able to produce sustainable income. Something that’s not correlated that can help our clients address different market situations.” He says California and Florida pose contrasting needs for clients. California has one of the highest state income taxes, whereas Florida has none. California is a community property state. Florida isn’t. “So the estate planning needs are different, which is why we’re always looking to expand our offering in that area as well.”  

“At our size and the scale that we’re looking to build to, we need to expand the offering,” Hixson says. “We’ve moved past investment management into the wealth management experience. What other services can we bring to bear for our clients, what other strategies? What other aspects can we bring to that wealth management experience?”

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