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December 1, 2020 -

December 01, 2020

One of Greater Cincinnati's money management firms acquires another

By Steve Watkins  – Staff Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

A Covington investment advisory firm has acquired another Greater Cincinnati firm, doubling its size. Covington-based Journey Advisory Group has acquired Blue Ash-based Torch Wealth Management. The deal brought Torch co-founders and longtime Cincinnati investment professionals Ed Haberer and Don Keller to Journey while adding Torch’s $280 million in assets under management.

Journey now manages $550 million in assets.

“When we started talking I was impressed with Torch and I had heard it was a great company with a wonderful reputation, but it didn’t have a plan for how to serve clients 10 or 20 years down the road,” Tyler Lang, Journey’s founder and CEO, told me.

Haberer, 77, previously co-founded Cincinnati investment advisory firm Cowgill-Haberer in 1977 before he and Keller launched Torch seven years ago. Keller and Torch’s two other employees joined Journey, but Keller will retire at year-end. Haberer plans to stay.

“I plan to keep doing this as long as I can,” Haberer said. “My obligation is to provide continuity for my clients. It came down to the point we got concerned about who was going to take care of our clients. Last year when we came across the opportunity to chat with Tyler and saw he has a staff of 20 people and offices around the country it was a perfect match.”

Lang launched Journey in 2013 under the name Dynasty Advisor Group. Within the next two years he had acquired a firm in Temple, Texas, run by women that has expertise in working with female clients, and in Sacramento, Calif., that has expertise in estate and tax planning. Torch provides a lot of investment advisory expertise as well as planning capabilities.

“Each firm brings unique expertise,” Lang said.

Journey added to that expertise by bringing on board Eric Pettway, who had been with PNC Bank for about a decade and has 20 years of experience in the investment business, as its chief investment officer; and Mike Whelan as CFO. Whelan had been CFO at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati.

Lang owns the firm along with a handful of employees.

Journey doesn’t make the Courier's ranking of largest money management firms, which cuts off with firms that have $825 million in assets under management at No. 25. But this deal does make Journey a prominent player in the industry.

Journey has more than 500 clients and more than 20 employees, Lang said.

That size works well, even though some investment advisory firms of that size have sold in recent years to larger firms. Some of those have sold to provide a succession plan while others felt they lacked
the size to handle compliance issues and to invest in technology.

“We’re not looking for another acquisition,” Lang said. “If something comes along that’s unique we’ll look at it. But we’re growing organically and adding capabilities. And I’m 41, so I’m sticking around for a while.”