Chicago-based RIA aggregator Hightower has agreed to snap up $8bn Los Angeles-based advisory firm Bel Air Investment Advisors, marking its largest purchase ever.

The seller is Montreal, Canada-based asset manager Fiera Capital, a public company, who took over Bel Air in 2013.

Bel Air deal details

The acquisition by Hightower will help Bel Air return to private ownership.

The founders and leaders of Bel Air will retain key positions with equity in the business.

Fiera will get the sale proceeds following deal completion in the first quarter of this year.

Bel Air serves UHNWIs, families, trusts and foundations with at least $20m in investable assets, offering them wealth management services and investment solutions.

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Set up in 1997, Bel Air has a staff headcount of 43 that includes ten advisers.

Hightower CEO Bob Oros said: “We are honoured to be welcoming Bel Air to Hightower and look forward to collaborating with the team and providing access to our strategic consulting services, which focus on organic growth and talent development, as well as offering additional scale through our middle- and back-office capabilities.”

WGAM sale

Additionally, Fiera Capital also closed the divestiture of its New York-based private wealth investment manager Wilkinson Global Asset Management (WGAM) to Wilkinson Global Capital Partners.

Fiera Capital has inked a multi-year financing agreement for the WGAM deal and will get the proceeds over time.

The aggregate selling price for the two deals is around C$81m, excluding transaction costs.

The company decided on the deals following a strategic review of its US private wealth operations.

Fiera Capital global president and COO Jean–Philippe Lemay said: “Our competitive advantage in the private wealth space is predicated on our fully discretionary model and on providing clients unique and differentiated investment offerings through tailored and holistic portfolio solutions.

“The transactions announced today allow us to better align our remaining regional platforms for private wealth management and transition them to a globally integrated model.”

Other Hightower moves

Hightower has made several investments over the past year.

These include investments in Hart Financial GroupArgent Wealth Management, Stearns Financial Group, Teak Tree Capital Management, and Private Vista, among others.