Savant Wealth Management Announces Strategic Minority Investment from Kelso & Company
Rockford, IL – Savant Wealth Management (Savant), a nationally recognized, fee-only registered investment adviser (RIA) with nearly $12 billion in assets under management, announced it has received a strategic minority investment from Kelso & Company (Kelso), a North American-focused middle-market private investment firm. Savant CEO and founder Brent Brodeski will retain full control of the company and the board, and Savant’s current management team will remain in place.
The partnership is designed to accelerate Savant’s acquisition and organic growth strategies by augmenting its capabilities and providing access to additional growth capital. Two Kelso partners, Chris Collins and Steve Dutton, will join Savant’s Board of Directors, with Kelso also providing access to additional resources in technology, marketing, human capital, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
“Savant is distinguished by our independence and employee ownership, as well as by our role as a leader and innovator in the RIA industry,” said Brodeski. “As we looked to build on our momentum and enter our next phase of growth, we sought a partner who not only could provide a strategic capital infusion, but whose approach, values and interests were a strong match. Kelso’s history, culture and embrace of employee-owned, founder-led firms made it an excellent fit to propel our growth – thoughtful growth that will broaden our impact, support our employee-owners and further enhance the outstanding value and service we deliver to clients.”
“Central to Kelso’s investment approach is a clear alignment of interests with our partner companies, and the shared values with Savant as an employee-owned organization were immediately apparent,” said Kelso’s Chris Collins. “We believe Savant is highly differentiated in its markets with a unique value proposition, and it is well-positioned to continue to expand its comprehensive platform of integrated service offerings, serve as a trusted partner to clients and advisors, and accelerate its already impressive growth trajectory. We look forward to supporting Brent and his team with strategic resources and additional growth capital.”
Kelso and Savant’s other partners are long-term oriented and focused on helping Savant build a durable and sustainable, best-in-class firm. All of Savant’s new and previously raised capital is from patient investors not bound by the defined short-term time constraints that are common among traditional institutional investors.
All of the founding employees, board members, family offices and other outside stakeholders who invested in Savant in 2016 will maintain their investments. In addition, 16 additional employees became new investor/members in Savant.
According to Brodeski, “With 90+ employee owners, we solidified Savant’s team to maintain long-term continuity for our clients. Employee ownership attracts, retains, and incentivizes key employees. In addition, the outside investors are providing Savant both capital and expertise to support our growth and keep us independent.”
This transaction highlights Savant’s differentiated capital structure among large high-growth RIAs with outside capital. Whereas most PE-owned RIAs are highly leveraged, sell every two to five years and are controlled or effectively controlled by their PE sponsor, Savant remains 100% employee-controlled and uses very limited debt. Savant’s capital structure enables the firm to make long-term investments for the benefit of its members and clients. This provides employee-owners, including acquired partners, the opportunity to benefit from regular dividends, long-term compounding of their ownership interest and allows Savant to invest in the people, process, technology, and other capabilities traditional PE-controlled firms often cannot justify given their shorter time horizon.
Savant’s capital structure is also unique in that the firm can never be forced to sell itself or buy out outside investors. Unlike traditional PE-backed firms, Savant provides new partner firms the opportunity to roll a significant portion of their firm’s equity into Savant equity.
Brodeski and Keith Taylor, managing director of Cynosure, a Savant family-office partner that joined in 2016, led Savant through a process to evaluate prospective capital sources and select a highly aligned and value-added partner. Savant’s board also received assistance and advice from Truist Securities and Advisor Growth Strategies. Ardea Partners LP served as financial advisor to Kelso. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
Along with the Kelso partnership, Truist Bank provided Savant with an expanded credit facility to provide additional growth capital to support Savant’s M&A/partnership strategy.
About Kelso & Company
Kelso is one of the oldest and most established firms specializing in private equity investing. Since 1980, Kelso has invested approximately $15 billion of equity capital in over 130 transactions. Kelso was founded by the inventor of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and, as a result, the principles of partnership and alignment of interest serve as the foundation of the firm’s investment philosophy. Kelso benefits from a successful investment track record, deep sector expertise, a long-tenured investing team, and a reputation as a preferred partner to management teams and corporates. Kelso has significant experience investing in financial services, having deployed approximately $3 billion of equity capital in the sector. For more information, please visit www.kelso.com.