August 11, 2014
Ladenburg Thalmann (NYSE MKT: LTS) said it would acquire KMS Financial Services, a Seattle-based independent broker/dealer with about 325 advisors and $14 billion in assets, for $24 million in cash and stock. After the purchase, Ladenburg will have 3,500 advisors with $110 billion in client assets, and $1 billion in revenue across the firm. As of 1 p.m. eastern time, Ladenburg’s stock was up 5.8 percent.
“This is a good indicator that [Ladenburg is] going to continue into an expansion mode and commit to owning independent b/ds and then cross selling their investment banking services through the independent b/ds they own,” said Jonathan Henschen, president of recruiting firm Henschen & Associates.
Ladenburg has agreed to pay $11 million in cash, $8 million in four-year notes and about 1.4 million shares of company stock.
“Any time there’s some kind of a change, sometimes there’s the trepidation over creation of a lot of disequilibrium, and really we see this quite the opposite—as serving and enhancing the cause of our own continuity out into the future and what we’ve tried to build,” said Mark Hamby, chairman and CEO of KMS.
As Ladenburg has done with its other b/d acquisitions, the firm will allow KMS to continue to operate independently, maintaining its current headquarters in Seattle. The b/d’s management team, including Hamby and President and Chief Operating Officer Eric Westberg, will also stay in place. The firm clears primarily through Pershing, and custodies with Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity.
“There’s no change anticipated in any of that,” Hamby said. “No repapering of client accounts. No change of our basic branding or identity in the materials that go out to clients.
Ladenburg Thalmann entered the independent b/d space in 2007, with its acquisition of Investacorp, based in Miami. Since then, it has built a network of independent advisors with the addition of Triad Advisors in Norcross, Ga., and Securities America in Omaha, Neb. Just last month, Securities America scooped up insurance b/d Sunset Financial, adding 268 reps.
The acquisition of KMS will give Ladenburg a larger foothold in the Pacific Northwest region.
“Strategically this is a good move for Ladenburg because it gives them a broker/dealer with a West Coast presence, and they’re pretty concentrated in the Southeast and Midwest,” Henschen said.