Things were going well at MAI Capital Management, an $11.5 billion RIA headquartered in Cleveland.
Since Wealth Partners Capital Group invested in the company in 2017, MAI had acquired 12 other advisory businesses and expanded its geographic footprint in the U.S. New clients and assets continued to flow organically to the RIA and it kept investing in its other services catered to professional athletes and entertainers.
Rick Buoncore, managing partner at MAI, believed his wealth manager was on its way to becoming a firm with national notoriety and significance. He didn’t think he would see that in his lifetime, but that was alright with him. Buoncore had no plans to raise capital and attempt to dramatically change the trajectory of MAI.
Then he got a phone call from Brad Siegert, an investment banker at Ardea Partners.
Siegert suggested there might be an investor out there that could give MAI the capital it wanted and much more. The bank introduced Buoncore to two fellow Fordham University alumni: John Hahn, executive chairman at Galway Holdings, and Dave Howard, a president at EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants, which is owned by Galway. (Galway is backed by Harvest Partners, Oak Hill Capital, Carlyle Group, and others.) They wanted to create a “financial superpower” and so did Buoncore.
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On Monday, Galway announced it had made an investment in MAI. Buoncore, employees, and Wealth Partners Capital Group sold a pro rata amount of equity and Galway became the majority owner, Buoncore said. He declined to share what MAI was valued at in the transaction.
For MAI to consider a deal, it needed to have three things: The investor had to prioritize clients like MAI does, bring something beyond cash, and allow Buoncore to remain in control. “I don’t want to salute every day,” he said. A deal with Galway checked all those boxes.
“I dream big, but I never dreamed it would be as good as this,” Buoncore told RIA Intel.
MAI and EPIC have overlapping clientele and plan to use each other as distribution channels. “There isn’t one client we have that doesn’t have property and casualty insurance needs,” Buoncore said. Now, it will have a close-knit partner to refer clients to for personal risk management, an employee benefits insurance brokerage, and consulting. Meanwhile, EPIC gains a wealth manager eager to overlap its footprint with an infusion.
MAI already has 10 offices across eight states and 225 employees, but it envisions many more joining and expanding its presence into EPIC’s 76 offices. The strategy will also create new career opportunities for existing employees. (Buoncore has agreed to stay on at the company for at least five more years.)
With the potential in EPIC's office network, along with additional capital, Buoncore said MAI will become the national firm he envisions within his lifetime.
But there’s been little time to celebrate. Monday evening, Buoncore was hosting a 50-person gathering at his home for management of MAI, EPIC, and Galway to all meet one another and get wheels in motion.
“These guys, honestly, they have a sense of urgency like I’ve never seen,” Buoncore said.
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.