Creative Planning To Acquire $5B AUM Wipfli

Creative Planning LLC, a registered investment advisor in Overland Park, Kan., has agreed to acquire Milwaukee-based Wipfli Financial Advisors, a firm with $5 billion under management.

Wipfli Financial Advisors, with 95 employees, serves individual investors, families, business owners, nonprofits, and foundations. Wipfli LLP, which started the affiliate wealth management and investment advisory practice in 1999, will maintain a significant minority ownership stake in the venture, according to a press release.

“From leading with financial planning and a similar evidence-based investment approach, to the incredibly strong cultural alignment and deep commitment to both clients and employees, we knew Creative Planning was the right firm for us to join with,” Wipfli Financial Advisors principal and CEO Jeff Pierce said in a news release announcing the merger. “Going forward, we will be able to provide additional services to our clients to meet their needs for many years to come while investing in our team through a strong commitment to training and development.”

In an email, Pierce elaborated on the service offerings Creative Planning brought to the table that sealed the deal for his firm.

Cap Expand Partners Peter-MalloukBldg-600x279 Creative Planning To Acquire $5B AUM Wipfli Family Offices AND investments

“In joining Creative Planning, we will be able to quickly integrate into these offerings and provide solutions to our clients immediately such as legal services, trust services, family office services that include bill pay and concierge services, and risk management solutions.,” he said. “We’re seeing a greater demand for these services as clients seek an advisor that can provide everything under a single roof.  As we partner with Creative Planning, we’ll be able to continue to serve our clients in the same way as we have in the past, while providing these additional services to create a level of simplicity and cohesiveness throughout their financial journey.”

Kurt Gresens, managing partner and chairman of the board of Wipfli LLP, said  in an email that the company began its search in March for a larger partner capable of scaling Wipfli Financial Advisors, and that the deal would be mutually beneficial to all parties.

“This transaction creates a strategic relationship that will allow our clients to access a broad set of services through innovative financial platforms,” he said in the news release.

The transaction will also include Wipfli Financial Advisor’s investment solution, Avid, as well as its retirement plan services group, which will complement Creative Planning’s recent acquisition of Lockton Retirement Services and its emerging wealth division.

With its latest acquisition, the third in two months, Creative Planning manages or advises on over $225 billion in assets across 50 states and in 65 countries worldwide.

“[WipFli's] presence in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will help us better serve our clients throughout the U.S.,” Creative Planning CEO Peter Mallouk said in a news release. “From our first conversations with Jeff Pierce and the rest of the Wipfli Financial team, it was evident that this was a perfect match. Wipfli Financial shares the same core values that we instill at Creative Planning and we are excited to hit the ground running.”

In an email, he said, “Its all about fit. … In some cases, a small firm can add incredibly talented people, offer a new service or allow a region to become more competitive. Larger deals have to be overwhelmingly positive on all levels to succeed, from talent to culture and everything in-between. But if you can get all of that, tjey can be transformative.”

Mallouk said he sees a lot of industry deals that appear doomed to fail. 

“I see a lot of deals getting done that have considerable misalignment,” he said in the email. “Someone wants in, but doesn’t really think about the consequences to their team. A firm acquired doesn’t worry about long term integration because they plan to flip again soon. Some firms are doing very well. Others are creating very clunky Frankenfirms.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Ardea Partners LP served as exclusive financial advisor to Wipfli Financial Advisors, and Alston & Bird served as legal counsel to Wipfli Financial Advisors.

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