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WealthWise Financial acquires Houston-based wealth practice

Irvine, California-based WealthWise Financial Services has acquired a Houston-based financial practice.

The firm acquired the $35 million financial practice from certified financial planner Thomas Higgins. . The deal will bring WealthWise’s total brokerage and advisory assets served to over $300 million through registered investment advisor LPL Financial (Nasdaq: LPLA) and adds a third office to the firm, adding to its locations in Southern California and Dallas.

The deal was facilitated by LPL Financial (Nasdaq: LPLA), an independent broker-dealer network which both WealthWise and Thomas Huggins are part of. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Higgins manages his $35 million in assets by himself and has clients located throughout Texas, as well as some outside of the state. Huggins has been running his practice for 25 years. At 73 years old and approaching retirement, he said it was time for him to merge with a partner to help run the back-office functions of the practice and eventually take over as lead adviser to his clients. 

“It was time for me to start looking at who’s going to take my clients on the next lap,” Higgins told the Houston Business Journal. “Oftentimes over my 25 years, (my clients) asked, ‘What happens if you get hit by a bus?’ I’ve danced and dogged (the question), but now I finally have the person that’s going to be there when I get hit by a bus.”

The deal won’t have a major impact on Higgins’ clients other than a change in the logo on their statements, he said. Both firms have a similar philosophy for managing clients’ assets — one of the factors that made the deal attractive — so Higgins’ clients will fit right in with WealthWise, he said. Additionally, those clients will have access to expanded services with the new firm.

Meanwhile, WealthWise has four employees and works with business owners and executives with a focus on female clients and investors. The firm has clients in 26 states nationwide, including in Texas, so the deal made sense for the company to expand its reach in the Lone Star State, said founder and CEO Loreen Gilbert. The deal is the company’s first external acquisition.

“It’s been a desire of mine to have a greater impact with more clients and expand in areas where we already have a presence,” Gilbert told HBJ.

Texas’ booming economy and favorable business environment is attractive for WealthWise and Gilbert, who is a native Texan herself and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Expanding into Houston allows the firm to break into the oil and gas space, which Gilbert said she has been planning to do for some time now. Now that the deal is closed, the firm plans to continue expanding its statewide presence and adding clients in other parts of the state, such as Austin and Corpus Christi, she said.

“We want to be where clients are going to want to be for the kind of clients that we are looking for,” Gilbert said.



By Chandler France – Reporter, Houston Business Journal

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Loreen Gilbert is a registered representative with and securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINA/SIPC.