Telarray Advisors has been acquired by Creative Planning, a national RIA with $225 billion in assets under management. Telarray brings $1 billion in AUM and 18 new employees to Creative Planning and establishes the firm’s first physical location in Tennessee.
It is the first firm Creative Planning, an active acquirer, has purchased since August.
Based in Memphis, Telarray is a fee-only firm launched in 2005.
“They’re planning-led, which is a requirement with us,” said Creative Planning CEO Peter Mallouk. “They share a similar investment philosophy and wanted to offer full family office services to their clients, which is a big part of what we do.
“But they’re also in Memphis,” he said. “We needed to have a strong presence in Memphis, and we did not have one before. So, it helps fill that gap for us and we had a lot of respect for the leadership of the group and liked the scale. You put all those things together and it checked every box for us. It’s been great all around.”
“Creative Planning is a perfect match for Telarray,” said Richard Paessler, the firm’s president and chief compliance officer. “We were looking for a firm that aligned with us in planning philosophy, culture, employee opportunities, and that provides an immediate expansion in our service offering for both our existing and future clients.”
Creative Planning now manages or advises on more than $225 billion in assets across all 50 states and 65 countries.
After beginning 2020 with around $60 billion in client assets, the firm received a minority investment from private equity firm General Atlantic and followed up with eight deals representing more than $4 billion in acquired assets.
The acquisition of Lockton’s $110 billion retirement business in late 2021—along with four smaller deals throughout the year that added approximately $12 billion—brought Creative Planning to $210 billion in client assets, including market and organic growth. In 2022, the firm completed 12 more acquisitions worth around $15 billion in total assets, including the purchase of $5 billion AUM Wipfli in August.
At the time of the Wipfli acquisition, Mallouk told WealthManagement.com he was satisfied with what the firm had accomplished after more than doubling assets in 20 months. He said the firm would focus on organic growth and building out existing and acquired capabilities for the remainder of the year.
“It’s been going great. We had one of our best years ever in terms of organic growth,” he said Thursday. “We’re shooting for a record this year and we’re trying to be more selective. Fewer deals, but bigger deals. That’s the most likely trajectory for us.”
Telarray is the seventh acquisition Creative Planning has made of a firm with more than a billion dollars in assets, according to M&A advisory firm DeVoe & Company, which represented five of the 27 firms the “META-RIA” has acquired since 2019.
“Telarray will gain immediate leverage and resources at scale,” said founder David DeVoe, describing Creative Planning as “one of two dozen significant enterprises that are shaping the RIA industry.”
After falling in 2022, the size of M&A deals in the RIA space has risen in the first months of 2023, according to DeVoe. Four in 10 deals announced through March 2 involved sellers with more than $1 billion in AUM, compared with 27% during all of last year. The percentage of deals involving firms with more than $5 billion has nearly doubled over the same time frames, from 6% to 11%.