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Cadaret, Grant to be sold to private-equity backed Atria Wealth Solutions

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The 75-year-old co-founder of IBD firm Cadaret, Grant & Co. has agreed to sell his company to Atria Wealth Solutions, a wealth management services holding company launched last summer by two former Morgan Stanley executives with the help of a private equity firm.

The sale of the company to Atria will allow Cadaret to provide advisors with future growth opportunities, said Art Grant, CEO of Cadaret, one of the country’s 50 largest IBDs, according to Financial Planning data.

“I’m at an age where a lot of people have already retired,” he said, adding that it was his responsibility to “make sure that things are taken care of.”

The Syracuse-based company he co-founded 33 years ago today serves some 900 financial advisors with more than $23 billion in assets under administration, according to the IBD.
Grant agreed to sell the company to Atria after an extended search for a potential buyer that started two years ago.

“It’s really about keeping Cadaret Grant together in the years to come and ensuring that they’re led by the most competent, dedicated people possible,” he said.

The deal was driven by what both Cadaret and Atria said was a common vision for the future of the industry. The two companies also shared similar philosophies and service approaches.

Grant was particularly taken with Atria’s focus on advisors, which aligned with Cadaret’s culture, and relieved that Atria didn’t propose to turn the “company upside down” by making drastic changes like moving it to another state. As part of the transaction, Cadaret will remain headquartered in Syracuse, New York.

The acquisition is expected to close in the next 60 to 90 days, pending FINRA’s approval. The companies declined to disclose the terms of the deal, saying only that “it was equitable for everybody.”

In addition to Cadaret, Atria will acquire 100% of Cadaret’s sister companies, Cadaret Grant Agency and Cadaret Strategy Group, according to the stock purchase agreement.

Atria said that it will invest resources and capital in client and advisor technologies, products and services.

“We think this is a wonderful opportunity in this day and age to help advisors help their clients,” said Atria’s CEO Doug Ketterer, adding that clients and their advisors are increasingly looking for technology and support.

Cadaret is the third company Atria has acquired since it launched last August. The company, which is backed by Lee Equity Partners, bought CUSO Financial Services and its sister company Sorrento Pacific Financial in August. CUSO Financial provides third-party brokerage services to credit unions, while Sorrento Pacific focuses on banks. Both companies will receive multimillion upgrades to their technology platforms from Atria, they announced this week.

More IBD firms and broker-dealers are expected to sell their businesses for competitive and other reasons, say industry observers. Some, like Cadaret, have aging executives looking to retire, while others struggle with technology changes, margin compression and other challenges that make it hard to stay in business.

“The number of parties that might look to transact will continue to increase as other factors aside from succession become issues,” said Jeff Brand, managing director at M&A consulting firm Silver Lane Advisors.

Grant will remain with Cadaret in an advisory role to Ketterer. While he says he won’t stay on indefinitely, he would like to stay on until he’s at least 110 years old, he joked.

“For me, the goal is to make sure that the advisors are accommodated in the best way possible,” he said. “When I’m convinced that’s the case, then maybe I’ll spend more time on the beach or skiing.”

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