Mallard Financial acquired by big investment firm
NEWARK – Mallard Financial Partners, a full-service wealth management firm, has been acquired by Mercer Advisors, a large Denver-based national firm that is growing in the First State.
Founded in 1996 by certified financial advisor Paul Baumbach, Mallard Financial employs about a dozen people today and serves more than 200 clients with assets under management of about $180 million. The firm, located off Barksdale Road in Newark, offers fee-only financial planning, estate planning, investment management, tax strategies and more to individuals, families, small businesses and nonprofits in Delaware and the surrounding region.
Baumbach told Delaware Business Times that he and current CEO Joe Daigle have been discussing the firm’s succession plans for some time when serendipity struck.
Last year, Mercer acquired Mallard Advisors, a Hockessin-based firm led by Baumbach’s former partner William “Bill” Starnes who spun out his own firm. After the deal became public, Mallard Financial clients began calling Baumbach to find out more, confused by the similar names.
A few months later, Baumbach called his old friend to ask how the acquisition went and received a glowing recommendation of the new parent firm, he said.
“Figuring out how to transition to the next generation [of leadership] is something that we’ve been really struggling with for years,” Baumbach said, adding that the workforce shortage right now was only compounded the difficulty.
“With financial planning and investment management, it’s client relationships that matter. So, you really need to have that continuity of staff,” he said. “We were literally losing sleep over what we would do if we lost this key employee or that key employee.”
Backed by private equity, the 38-year-old Mercer brings significant weight to the table with more than 890 employees across the country managing $48 billion in client assets. It ranks among the largest registered investment advisors in the country and has already made in-roads in Delaware by acquiring Mallard Advisors in 2022 and McDermott Advisory Group in 2018.
David Barton, the vice chairman of Mercer who led the acquisition of Mallard, said it was a “true win-win transaction.”
“Paul and Joe have built a high-service boutique wealth management firm dedicated to putting their clients’ interest first. We share that vision and business values, and together we host a panoply of professional solutions to their growing clientele in the tri-state area and beyond,” Barton said in a statement. “Paul and Joe were also concerned about making certain that their team members had expanded career development opportunities at Mercer Advisors, which is our calling card.”
The negotiations over the acquisition – the terms of which were not revealed in the July 6 announcement – began early this year and took about six months to complete, said Baumbach, who saw a busy schedule while also serving as an elected representative of Newark in the Delaware House of Representatives.
Under Mercer, Mallard Financial can benefit from deeper research into stock targets, emerging trends like environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments, and administrative support, Baumbach said. With current clients that range from $20,000 in assets to $20 million, Mallard Financial could also take on larger clients with the support of the Mercer team, he added.
“[Mercer] said, ‘We care about clients, we care about your staff, and we care about your community.’ Those three things are what we care about most, and we can do that better as part of Mercer. So that was really what drove us,” Baumbach said.