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  • Writer's pictureKevin Elvington

$550m RIA exits Fifth Third... with the help of Stratos

Ian Wenik 15 July 2022, 10:04

Retirement Corp. of America is independent once again.

A $550m RIA has bought itself out from a bank and returned to independence.

Employees at Retirement Corp. of America (RCA) have purchased a majority stake in the Cincinnati-based firm from Fifth Third Bank and added mega-RIA umbrella company Stratos Wealth Holdings as a minority investor.

Specific financial terms of the transaction, which closed in late April, were not disclosed. Stratos has bought into RCA through its RIA acquisition vehicle, Stratos Wealth Enterprises. RCA employs seven people in total. The firm oversees roughly $500m in wealth assets and about $50m in 401(k) assets, according to its president, Chris Kiley.

Fifth Third Bank wholly acquired RCA in early 2017 after roughly 30 years of independence. Kiley was eager to return to that status.

‘We had been used to that independence. Some of the synergies that we thought we might accomplish by working with Fifth Third really never came to fruition,’ he said. ‘Going back to that independence seemed to make a lot of sense. Just having the ability to control our destiny and really give some direction to the growth outlets was really the primary factor [for the buyout].’

Enter Stratos. The $22.3bn RIA umbrella company has bought into seven firms over the past year or so through Stratos Wealth Enterprises. Jeff Concepcion, Stratos’s chief executive, told Citywire he had been introduced to RCA through a mutual friend and saw parallels between the two companies.

‘I think that RCA has a lot of similarities to us from a values perspective. They’re Midwest-based, they’re family built. They’ve assembled a team that in large part they’ve kept together, so it’s still the same team running the business today,’ Concepcion (pictured) said. ‘I see a lot of parallels to Stratos from our early days and the leadership team we’ve assembled, which largely remains intact.’

Stratos is based in Beechwood, Ohio. Its best-known business is Stratos Wealth Partners, a hybrid RIA affiliated with independent broker-dealer LPL Financial. It also has an in-house asset manager known as Fundamentum.

Fifth Third declined to comment.

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