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Mallard Advisors acquired by big investment firm

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HOCKESSIN – Mallard Advisors, a boutique investment advisory firm with clients nationwide, has been acquired by a large Denver-based national firm.

Founded in 2002 by financial advisor William “Bill” Starnes, Mallard employs four other professionals today and serves 109 clients with assets under management of about $165 million. The firm, located off of Lancaster Pike, was founded as one of the few in the state to provide fee-only financial planning, retirement planning, and investment management to Newark, Wilmington, and Hockessin residents.

They will now join Mercer Global Advisors, one of the largest registered investment advisors and financial planning firms in the country.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in Tuesday’s announcement.

A 37-year-old total wealth management firm backed by private equity firms, Mercer Advisors has more than 760 employees in more than 60 offices nationwide, including one in the Wilmington suburbs off Silverside Road. It manages more than $37 billion in client assets. Like Mallard, Mercer Advisors is also a fee-based investment manager but also provides a range of other services like estate and tax planning, insurance solutions, and corporate trustee and trust administration services.

The deal was prefaced by a relationship that Starnes brokered with Mercer a few years ago. He partnered with the larger firm through its Mutual Assistance Pact program, wherein they would look after Mallard’s clients and staff if something unforeseen should happen to him.

In reassessing his transition plans and being the firm’s sole owner, Starnes recently reached back out to Mercer Advisors Vice Chairman David Barton about how they could set the firm up for the future.

“Together we worked on, and successfully completed, my succession plan and I am thrilled to join a firm like Mercer Advisors alongside my fantastic team,” Starnes said in a statement announcing the deal. “At Mallard, my team and I are dedicated to serving our clients with excellence and see our clients as extended family. Moreover, I am committed to the success and development of my staff.”

Barton commended Starnes’ work to date and said he had aligned Mallard well to fit into Mercer’s culture.

“Bill is a superior financial planner, a salt of the earth person, and is committed to his clients and team. These are all traits I look for in determining whether or not a cultural fit exists between our firms. In Mallard, we found a perfect fit and we could not be more excited to partner with Bill and his team to expand our Delaware presence,” he said in a statement.

Mercer Advisors has now added 64 firms through acquisitions, including 12 this year, following majority investments by private equity firms Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital.

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