Most wirehouse and regional broker-dealers are engaged in the recruiting battle for top talent, but few firms are pursuing acquisitions.

Not so for Milwaukee-based Baird which picked up 85 advisors and $10 billion in assets through its absorption of Seattle-based McAdams Wright Ragen.

The deal with McAdams Wright Ragen, announced in April, was completed this week, giving Baird over 800 advisors, $125 billion in client assets and more than 80 offices in 26 states.

'NOT IN THE SCALE GAME'

The deal represents a somewhat rare move for the regional B-D, says Michael Schroeder, managing director and president of private wealth management at Baird.

He notes that in his nearly 30-year career with the firm, Baird has only completed three acquisitions in wealth management.

"It isn't that we're opposed to them, but acquisitions in our business are hard to do," Schroeder explains. "There has to be a good fit between the cultures of the two firms, the leadership of the firm and the overall quality of the business."

However, future acquisitions by Baird are unlikely, says Schroeder.

"We'd be open to do it under the right circumstances. But if you've followed our business for a while, you'll know that the field has gotten narrow," he says.

But that's okay, says Schroeder, because while Baird will continue to grow, it's not trying to become the next wirehouse.

"We're not in the scale game," he says. "We're not trying to have thousands of FAs. We're trying to have the right FAs and the right teams."

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

The acquisition also boosts Baird's presence in the Pacific Northwest market, a region where the firm has long wanted to grow its market share, says Schroeder.

McAdams Wright Ragen was founded in the late 1990s, growing to seven offices; one in Portland, Ore. and six in Washington (Seattle, Spokane, Yakima, Mount Vernon, Bellevue and Anacortes).

"You've got very strong job growth in the Northwest, very strong entrepreneurial attitudes. We think it matches Baird's independent culture," says Schroeder.

The region has experienced stronger growth than the national economy. Last year, economies of Washington and Oregon both grew 2.7%, besting the national rate of 1.8%, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In particular, Schroeder highlights the region's corporate heavyweights like Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing.

"There are areas like that that are of particular interest to us and will continue to be," he says.

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