Mitchell Hartley straddles world of asset management and wealth management

February 23, 2010 — 6:19 AM UTC by Brooke Southall


In what may be a sign of a rising mergers market, two former Putnam Lovell investment bankers have joined forces to create a mergers and acquisitions firm aimed at asset managers and wealth managers.

By forming Mitchell Hartley LLC, Keith Mitchell, 56, of Atlanta, Ga., and Roger Hartley, 49, of Santa Rosa, Calif., aim to create a national footprint, combine their respective talents in operations and investment banking and better brainstorm new solutions and strategies for clients, according to Hartley.

The two former colleagues are reuniting in anticipation of demand for the kinds of M&A services that they intend to provide, primarily to boutique asset managers and wealth managers.

“The last couple of years have been difficult for asset managers and wealth managers alike – but now that things are stabilizing we do think that they are returning to thinking about strategically advancing towards their goals, be those business-oriented or financial,” Hartley says.

Formal and informal

He adds: “We’re launching the firm now as we both believe there is a strong market opportunity for a focused independent firm that can provide advice based on years of practical experience.”

Hartley and Mitchell originally met when Hartley was working for Putnam Lovell and he consulted for Allied Irish Bank’s US operations. At the time, Keith Mitchell was the CEO of that bank unit.

“We struck up a business relationship and subsequently Keith was interested in launching his career in investment banking, which he did by joining Putnam Lovell in San Francisco. Thus, we became colleagues in 2000,” he says.

The two men found they were compatible because they both enjoyed the idea of working with entrepreneurial clients.

“We both have a similar philosophy,” Hartley says.

Cautiously optimistic

Despite forming the company in anticipation of deal-making opportunities, the partners are merely cautiously optimistic about the M&A market in 2010.

“It’s still on the cusp,” Hartley adds. “I wouldn’t expect a banner year.”

Charles “Chip” Roame, managing principal of Tiburon [Calif.] Strategic Advisors, says both men have the kind of experience that should serve them well in the market.

“Mitchell and Hartley bring fine pedigrees including the combination of operating experience and deal experience,” he says. “I see their new firm as a perfect solution for middle-size asset managers looking to exist over multiple years and wanting a strategic counselor around to advise along the process.”

Mergers of RIA firms

Though the partners have focused more on asset management firms, they also see opportunity in handling mergers of RIA firms. For example, they were both involved with arranging the sale of Asset Management Advisors of Chevy Chase, Md., to Chevy Chase Trust.

Asset Management Advisors had $1.2 billion of assets under management at the time of the transaction. Hartley also played a key role in selling Cadhina & Co. of Honolulu to Convergent Capital while at Putnam Lovell. Convergent Capital Management is a holding company with seven investment advisory affiliates with about $22 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31.

“We’re fairly eclectic in terms of the types of businesses we think we can be helpful with,” Hartley says.

Yet bringing an M&A market to life is necessarily a gradual process.

“This isn’t something where you flip a switch,” Hartley says. “It takes a lot of soul-searching among the clients.”

Mitchell worked for Putnam Lovell from 2000 to 2003 and Hartley worked for the investment bank from 1997 to 2007. He was chief operating officer at Coast Asset Management, an alternative investments manager in Santa Monica, Calif. from late 2007 to early 2009.

Mitchell ran his own firm, Mitchell Advisers, from 2003 to 2010.

Mentioned in this article:

Tiburon Strategic Advisors
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Charles Roame

Mitchell Hartley
Mergers and Acquisition Firm
Top Executive: Keith Mitchell

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