Updated Tuesday, July 29, 2014 as of 6:42 AM ET
Practice - Practice Management
Lesson From a Failed Merger
Thursday, September 19, 2013

DALLAS - Culture clash between merging firms can mean the end of even a well-planned deal.

Before stepping into her current position, the chief executive officer of Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, Wash., Rebecca Pomering served 11 years as a management consultant for her firm’s parent company Moss Adams LLP. In that previous role, Pomering consulted and advised many wealth management firms about business strategy, including such tactics as acquisitions.

So Pomering counted herself among the most surprised and disappointed recently when as Moss Adams Wealth Advisors chief executive, she bungled her firm’s acquisition of another wealth management group. 

“It really sucked,” Pomering told financial advisors gathered at industry expert Bob Veres’ Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas on Sept. 18.

What went wrong? Both firms possessed individual personalities that clashed, Pomering says. And, in trying despite that obstacle, to make the marriage work, Pomering says: “I burned a lot of political capital with my own team when I kept on saying, ‘It is gonna work, it is gonna work.’ ”

In hindsight, Pomering says, the two firms had carefully evaluated in advance of the merger if their platforms and investment strategies matched. But the two firms failed to consider in advance, “how we were going to make decisions together,” she says. 

Next time she tries to tie Moss Adams Wealth Advisors to another team, Pomering says, she plans have all principals of both firms engage in multiple role playing, so they learn how they work together before making a commitment. 

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