Former pro hockey player Stew Gavin knows how fleeting success can be.
Two seasons after playing in the Stanley Cup finals, the winger tore up his knee during a practice in 1993, ending his National Hockey League career. The veteran of three teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, earned his certified financial planner designation while in the league. On leaving the game, he started a Toronto-based wealth management business that caters to NHL players, Gavin Hockey Wealth Specialists.
Over time, well-compensated stars such as Jarome Iginla and Eric Staal signed on, and the firm thrived. On Friday, Mr. Gavin and his colleagues locked in the value of the employee-owned business they built over two decades by selling it to New York-based Focus Financial Partners Inc., while keeping day-to-day control.
Nasdaq-listed Focus was founded in 2004 and now owns more than 75 money managers in six countries, with US$250-billion of client assets under management. It has three Canadian platforms, Nexus Investment Management and Prime Quadrant in Toronto and Dorchester Wealth Management in Montreal.
Last year, Focus launched a division called Connectus Wealth Advisers that acquires 100 per cent of a wealth manager and takes over its back office functions, such as record keeping and technology, while leaving the founders and staff to continue working with investors.
Connectus is buying Gavin Hockey Wealth in its first Canadian acquisition and its first venture into managing money for athletes. The division has acquired eight firms in three countries. The two companies did not release financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.
“I am delighted that our partnership with Connectus and Focus will allow us to maintain our culture, develop our brand and benefit our clients,” Mr. Gavin said in a news release. “This collaboration will also achieve the orderly succession of the business while ensuring continuity for our clients and staff,” the 61-year-old said.
Over time, Gavin Hockey Wealth plans to use the scale and resources that come with a deep-pocketed parent to expand into other professional athlete markets. The firm already has a U.S. office in Tampa, Fla.
The money management industry has consolidated around its largest participants in recent years and a number of domestic companies are expanding with strategies similar to Focus Financial’s approach. For example, Toronto-based Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group owns a collection of wealth management boutiques, under a variety of brands, overseeing $90-billion for clients.
Rajini Kodialam, Focus Financial’s co-founder and chief operating officer, said in an interview that Connectus was designed to offer a unique blend of autonomy, support and the long-term capital commitment that comes from being part of a publicly traded company.
Gavin Hockey Wealth’s pitch centres on ensuring clients are financially secure for life when they hang up their skates. The firm offers investing, tax and estate planning from an office in the Toronto tower connected to the Scotiabank Arena, the Leafs’ home, and during the hockey season Mr. Gavin occasionally drops by to watch the team practice.
In addition to five seasons with the Leafs, Mr. Gavin played for the Hartford Whalers and Minnesota North Stars. Toronto-based investment bank Blair Franklin Capital Partners, advised Gavin Hockey Wealth on the transaction.
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