Through an introduction at a conference, two registered investment advisory firms headquartered in the Midwest are merging to form a near $5 billion firm.

Sequoia Financial Group, an Akron, Ohio-based RIA with more than $4.1 billion in assets under management, is merging with Troy, Mich.-based LJPR Financial Advisors, an RIA that manages more than $775 million.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed but LJPR will effectively fold into Sequoia, which will maintain its name in the merger. With the addition of LJPR, Sequoia will grow from 66 to 91 employees.

Both firms offer wealth and investment management to individuals and institutions, as well as estate and tax planning services, and their strengths will compliment each other well, the firms said in a statement. But in addition to business synergies, the firms were a good match culturally.

Leon LaBrecque, the managing partner and CEO of LJPR Financial Advisors, said the deal was “too strong a fit for the two companies not to get together.”

LaBrecque said an employee of his firm’s custodian introduced him to Tom Haught, the president of Sequoia Financial Group, at a conference and the two quickly became friends over a drink. About a year and a half ago, they visited each other’s offices and saw opportunity in merging their businesses.

”We saw this remarkable cultural fit” and from that perspective it was “probably one of the easiest deals in the world,” LaBrecque said.

Haught will continue as President of Sequoia Financial Group and continue to lead the strategic direction and growth over the company overall. LaBrecque will become the chief growth officer of the group and be responsible for expanding its footprint in the Midwest and continue to offer thought-leadership on creative tax strategies and the associated complexities.

Unlike some multi-billion-dollar RIAs growing with help from investors, LaBrecque said the employee-owned Sequoia Financial Group is poised to continue to grow organically and inorganically. He said it’s reasonable to expect the growth rate to continue at 15 percent a year as the firm continues to eye strategic deals with firms and be a destination for advisors seeking a succession plan.

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