Mercer Advisors Inc. today announced it acquired M.J. Smith & Associates Inc., a wealth management firm in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, Colo., that manages roughly $910 million in assets.

For Mercer Advisors, the Denver-based parent of registered investment advisor Mercer Global Advisors Inc., this latest deal comes one week after it announced the acquisition of two RIA firms with nearly $1 billion in combined assets. Terms of the deals weren’t announced.

The company has been a serial consolidator during the past several years and has built a national network of RIA and financial planning firms that now totals 46 offices and about $20 billion in client assets. After it made two acquisitions earlier this year, Mercer Advisors took a breather during the height of the pandemic. But that hiatus appears to be over.

Dave Barton, Mercer Advisors' vice chairman and M&A leader, said in an interview last week that more deals are in the works and the company expects to add more than $4 billion in acquired AUM this year.

M.J. Smith & Associates was founded in 1983 by Mark Smith, and it currently has 10 employees in addition to Smith, who has won accolades from various sources as one of the nation’s top financial advisors.

The firm is an independent RIA that custodies its assets at Raymond James. It provides financial planning and investment management services to high-net-worth clients, and Smith said nearly all of its revenue are RIA/fiduciary-related.

“But about 3% of our revenue are old trails on annuities or a few Finra dollars here and there,” he added, noting his firm retains its Finra license with Raymond James’ broker-dealer division in order to custody those non-fidcuiary assets there. As a result, Raymond James is custodian for all of M.J. Smith & Associates' client assets because the company doesn't allow its Finra-licensed advisors to custody its non-Finra assets elsewhere.

“When you look for a merger partner, the question becomes, do you leave all of that [Finra] revenue on the table or do you try to retain it, because the clients who are generating that residual revenue still want us to oversee everything,” Smith said.

As part of its acquisition by Mercer Advisors, M.J. Smith & Associates will move to Raymond James’ independent advisor division, according to Barton.

“Raymond James will continue to be the custodian for MJ Smith clients and RayJ will join TDA, Schwab, Fidelity and E*Trade as one of our approved custodians,” Barton said in an emailed statement. “Regarding ongoing BD affiliation, Mercer is in [the] process of setting up its own, in-house, BD solution.” 

For Smith, he said the time was right to find a partner to help create a succession plan for his firm.

“I reached out to Mercer because after having this firm for 37 years I’ve reached age 65 and I need a plan,” he explained. “I strongly believe that as we get older we become less referable unless there’s a well-defined succession plan in place.”

Smith noted that he did careful due diligence on potential partners who he thought could provide what his firm needed to grow, and he concluded that Mercer was the right choice.

“When I looked at my checklist of things that were important to me in terms of being able to have a story that’s articulate and understandable to my clients as to why I think this makes sense to all of us, they brought all of the resources, structure and talent to the table,” Smith said.