Sequoias are big trees, and Sequoia Financial Group LLC is a big registered investment advisor firm that will get even bigger with today’s announcement that it plans to merge with Wealthstone Advisors. Deal terms weren’t disclosed, and the merger is expected to finalize during the second quarter.

Based in Akron, Ohio, Sequoia has roughly $5.75 million in assets under management. Wealthstone, which hails from Columbus, Ohio, manages about $1.4 billion in assets. Merging the two outfits will create a company with more than $7 billion in assets and about 110 people on the payroll. The combined entity will do business under the Sequoia name and be officially headquartered in Akron.

Wealthstone was founded in 1977 by Jim Wyland, and initially did business under the name Professional Planning Consultants. It serves its nationwide clientele in the areas of wealth planning, investments, insurance, taxes and business consulting.

After the deal closes, Wyland and Wealthstone principals Norm Cook (president and CEO), Brian Stertzer (managing director) and Jack Zhang (chief investment officer) will become Sequoia shareholders.

Sequoia took shape 30 years ago and became an RIA in 2002. It provides comprehensive service in the areas of financial planning, asset management, retirement planning and family wealth. In recent years, it has won accolades as one of the country’s leading RIA firms. 

Tom Haught, Sequoia’s president and CEO, said doing mergers and acquisitions has been a critical part of the company’s long-term strategy.

“I actively look for the right types of firms,” he said. “We’re not a serial acquirer where we try to do four to five a year, but we generally do one every year or two. And that’s dictated by when we find the right fit, and predominantly the right fit is the right people with the right client focus.”

Haught noted that he has known and admired Wyland—and Wealthstone—for many years, and that both men have an affinity for a particular client segment.

“Both of us have a passion to work with private business owners and help them think about their liquid and illiquid assets, so we’ve always had that in common,” Haught said. “And at different times he’d have different strategies than I would have, and we talked about that.”

In last year’s fourth quarter, Haught said, he and Wyland got to talking about how they might be able to do business together.

“We planned a home-and-away meeting, and that led to really good strategic dialogue about how we would be better together,” Haught explained. “That got us to earnestly talk about it, and then I popped the question, ‘What if we merge, think of all the things we could do together.’ I took the responsibility to show how I think coming together would be good for both parties.”

Haught made a presentation to Wealthstone’s shareholders and it was favorably received, and they started talking about how to take the next step.

Aside from what Haught described as a good culture fit between Sequoia and Wealthstone, he also noted the merger creates scale that lets employees focus more on what they do best, and it brings more talent to Sequoia.

“I think there’s a shortage of talent in this industry, so when we find very talented people we’re always interested in trying to find a way to integrate them into our team,” he said.