Pictured from left: Jason Baldus, Chad Opel, Tim Hammett, Roger Lewis, Brett Gilliland and Mark Allaria.
EDWARDSVILLE – Visionary Wealth Advisors, a wealth management firm founded in March of this year, is merging with Meridian Financial Group, a company that has served Edwardsville and surrounding areas for 15 years.
Meridian’s founder, Scott Carson, shown below left, and his team will be moving to Visionary’s Edwardsville office, and continuing their business under the Visionary name.
Visionary Wealth Advisors, founded by Brett Gilliland and Tim Hammett, is a new and rapidly growing firm with a one-year goal of going national. Visionary plans to grow by hiring exceptionally qualified advisors, and acquire or merge with firms that share the same mission, vision and values of integrity and client service. The firm has been steadily adding advisors since its founding, beginning with the six who serve on the Leadership Team, to 18 advisors prior to the merger. Meridian Financial Group is the first merger, which is official as of Aug. 1, just four months after Visionary’s launch.
Both firms are Registered Investment Advisors who provide clients financial advice. Registered Investment Advisors operate on a fee structure, based on assets under management, creating the incentive to provide advice that they say is purely in the client’s best interest.
Carson built up a large client base at Meridian Financial Group, and works with advisors, Bradley Keene, CFP, partner and vice president, and Dan Browne, AIF, vice president. Carson’s business model is to manage wealth for high net worth individuals, especially local business owners, professionals, widowed spouses and retirees, with a focus on managing and organizing their financial life, and preserving their wealth into future generations.
The merger combines key strengths from each firm: Meridian Financial Group brings Carson’s 25 years of wealth management experience, a solid team, and eMoney, a web-based financial management and organizational tool that simplifies his clients’ financial lives. Visionary Wealth Advisors brings the vision, culture, technology, support staff, and other infrastructure to serve to clients.
Growth has been rapid as the existing clients of both the Founders and Leadership Team decided to transition to Visionary. The initial transition resulted in $80 million in assets under management, and that number has been growing. The Meridian merger will add nearly $140 million, putting Visionary at $220 million in assets under management.
Visionary is also finalizing a partnership with First Clover Leaf Bank, providing wealth management services to bank customers under the name First Clover Leaf Wealth Management. A dedicated wealth advisor will be working with clients at the bank’s branches, under the guidance and support of Visionary. This partnership will open up a new and ongoing source for growth for Visionary, the company said.
“The bigger we become, the more we can provide to our clients,” said Gilliland. “We have invested heavily in our infrastructure, which includes a highly educated staff and $125,000 per year in software, so our advisors can provide the best possible investment advice, strategies and management to their clients. None of that is possible for small shop with just a few advisors.”
The support structure is one of the key reasons Carson decided to merge. He will recognize operational efficiency, virtually eliminate time spent running a business, and can focus almost exclusively on advising clients.
“I like to think that combining our two firms brings a very sound moral and ethical group of people together who are eager to deliver solid financial planning solutions,” Carson said of the merger. “Clients should be first and foremost in any decision-making at the firm level. I believe Brett and Tim are doing a good job globally to develop the firm the right way, doing the right thing for clients in a competitive landscape. Our level of experience, and our technology, added to Visionary’s culture and support, will deliver sound solutions and better communication for all of our clients.”
Carson’s title will be principal and wealth management advisor, and he’ll serve as a mentor for the younger advisors in the firm, especially with retirement and estate planning. Bradley Keene, CFP, will be a wealth management advisor and portfolio manager. Dan Browne, AIF will be a wealth management advisor. Vicky Dietsch, who served as Meridian’s Administrative Services Manager, will be a director of Client Services at Visionary.
The company said it will “be business as usual” for all Meridian clients, other than seeing their advisors in a different office, on the same street, just a few miles north on Route 157.
Gilliland and Hammett believe the merger is a win-win for the firm, the clients and especially the community. Visionary Wealth Advisors wants to help the communities they serve, currently Edwardsville and St. Louis, be financially independent.
“Without vision, people perish,” Gilliland said, quoting Proverbs. “People are attracted to us because we work not just as advisors but as Visionaries, helping people to dream bigger and achieve what they may not have thought was possible.”
Visionary Wealth Advisors is an independent Registered Investment Advisor, founded in March 2014 by Gilliland and Hammett. Visionary Wealth Advisors provides a visionary approach to all aspects of financial planning and wealth management including retirement, college and estate planning, life, health and disability insurance and small business retirement plans. Visionary Wealth Advisors is based in the St. Louis area, with the home office located in Edwardsville.
For more information, visit visionarywealthadvisors.com.