Chicago-based IHT Wealth Management has signed an agreement to merge with US Wealth Management, an independent network of wealth managers.

The combined firm will have nearly $2bn in combined brokerage and advisory assets and will offer advisors and their clients a range of financial planning capabilities.

Additionally, US Wealth Management has appointed IHT founder and president Steven Dudash as executive vice president of recruiting and strategic development.

Dudash will be responsible to share best practices on advisor recruiting and practice acquisitions, and will focus on solutions tailored to help advisory firms build strong succession strategies.

IHT Wealth Management said that it will acquire the equity of US Wealth Management in stages, which will allow both company’s advisors and their clients to seamlessly transition to the combined company structure.

Currently, IHT has 28 advisors in its network, while the US Wealth Management network has 30 advisors.

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Commenting on the merger, Dudash said, "The next several years will be a time of profound change for independent financial advisors. Evolving client expectations, industry consolidation and regulatory shifts such as the Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule – among other factors – are expected to converge to create a difficult environment for firms that lack a critical mass of resources or the broad capabilities to serve the full range of clients' needs.

“By combining our scale and expertise in helping advisors achieve their business and succession goals, our combined firm will offer the resources, flexibility and management insight to meet the challenges that lie ahead for independent advisors and their clients."

US Wealth Management chairman and CEO John Napolitano said: "While our firms currently manage over $2 billion in client assets, we are very much aware that the key factor that will differentiate firms in the years ahead will not be assets, but the ability to provide customized, thoughtful and comprehensive advice to meet the full spectrum of clients' needs.

“The partnership and transitional plan we have announced today is evidence that we practice what we preach. This combination puts a stake in the ground stating that the USWM / IHT partnership is poised to help advisors elevate the service they provide to clients, and to offer business development and succession strategies that work.

"Looking further down the road, I could not have found a better successor to take the reins at US Wealth Management when the time comes than Steven Dudash. Steve is 20 years younger than I am, and has built a team that demonstrates a unique gift for understanding the specific needs of each advisor and developing solutions to help them thrive," Napolitano added.