Atria Wealth Denies Rumors It Is Exploring a Sale

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Word on the street Wednesday was that Atria Wealth Solutions was exploring a sale.

Atria, a private equity-backed wealth management holding company launched by former Morgan Stanley executive Doug Ketterer had been on an acquisition spree of late, snapping up Houston-based independent broker-dealer NEXT Financial Group in January and Syracuse, N.Y.-based independent b/d Cadaret, Grant in April 2018.

In the late afternoon Atria spokesman Craig Raskin responded via email that "Atria Wealth Solutions is not for sale." The statement went on: "Our focus is entirely on elevating the offering we provide to our nearly 2,000 advisors and over 180 financial institutions across the country.We are committed to continuing to grow Atria Wealth Solutions and our subsidiaries, and are incredibly proud of the management team we have built to guide the organization now and into the future."

An investment banking source, who did not want to be named, said Wednesday that Atria was talking to larger PE players including Genstar. The source said that “Genstar and Advisor Group are looking to grow and there is no one else to buy.”

One idea, the source said, would be to combine with Genstar's Cetera because Cetera is looking to grow and is losing advisors to LPL and other competitors.

It makes sense to sell now, said the source, because valuations are high—for example, the recent Genstar/Cetera and Reverence/Advisor Group deals—and despite a strong equity market, the interest rate environment has changed, “so it is not likely to be worth more next year or the year after.”

The source added that a sale also makes sense because Atria still “doesn’t have anybody to manage” all of its acquired companies. Currently, Atria's four subsidiaries serve almost 2,000 advisors with about $65 billion AUM.

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Ketterer joined forces with Eugene Elias, the former head of advisor platforms at Morgan Stanley, and Kevin Beard, former head of acquisition and recruiting strategy at AIG Advisor Group, to build create Atria in 2017. Backed by private equity shop Lee Equity Partners, it wants to build a new kind of independent broker/dealer model—not on indiscriminate acquisitions of existing registrations, but by carefully building a layer of support for independent advisors on top of a few well-chosen outposts for future acquisitions. Ketterer was named one of WealthManagement.com′s Ten to Watch in 2018.

WealthManagement.com Managing Editor Diana Britton contributed to this report

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