Focus Financial’s Aussie biz MW Lomax acquires Westwood Group

Melbourne-based advisory business MW Lomax today revealed that it’s acquired a Brisbane-based wealth manager, Westwood Group, its first acquisition since it became part of the New York City-based Focus Financial Partners advisory network.

The deal was seen locally as the first step by MW Lomax towards creating a “financial services powerhouse” across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.  MW Lomax was founded in 2002 by Nick Maikousis and Jon White, and according to Australian press reports, has made nine previous acquisitions, prior to linking up with Focus.

MW Lomax was the third international firm to join Focus Financial, following Canada-based Dorchester Wealth Management and UK-based Greystone Financial Services.

Jon White, group managing director at MW Lomax, said the deal with Westwood would “not only bring synergies in client services, but also facilitate a geographic expansion that will elevate the position of MW Lomax in the growing wealth and financial services market within Australia”.

“Focus has been of great assistance throughout the deal process and we are very excited about our alliance with Westwood.”

According to the statement, Westwood directors Dominic Cronk, Rebecca Stacey, Peter Rowsell, Brendon Alford and “the rest of the Westwood team” would stay on with the newly-combined entity, which will continue to be called MW Lomax.

As reported here last May, New York City-based Focus was founded in 2006 by Ruediger Adolf, Rajini Kodialam and Leonard Chang, and now is comprised of some 41 “partner firms”. It is said to have been among the US advisory firms leading the move from “wirehouse broker dealers” to registered investment advisers (RIAs, as they are known in the US), and its business is said to have grown rapidly as a result. It has been included on Inc magazine’s annual ranking of America’s fastest-growing private companies for the last few years, including 2015 and 2014.

In a statement on its website at the time it acquired MW Lomaz, Focus said it saw “enormous growth potential” in the Australian market, at the same time that consumer demand for “truly independent financial planning advice” was being intensified by that country’s ongoing regulatory reforms in the financial services sector.  These have generally come as part of a package of regulations known as the Future of Financial Advice reforms, which took effect between July 2012 and July 2013, although additional regulations are currently in the process of being brought in.

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