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Cleveland, OH – April 1, 2024

Clearstead Advisors Announces Acquisition of Wilbanks Smith and Thomas


Clearstead Advisors, LLC, a leading registered financial advisor (“RIA”), has acquired the assets of Wilbanks Smith and Thomas Asset Management, LLC (“WST”), a Norfolk, Virginia based wealth and investment management firm with over $5 billion of assets under management. The combination continues Clearstead’s rapid growth trajectory and further consolidates Clearstead’s position among the leading RIAs in the US. After the merger, Clearstead Advisors and its subsidiaries will have approximately $44 billion in total assets under advisement, including $20 billion in total assets under management, 225 employees, and offices in nine cities. In addition, the six WST partners will become shareholders in Clearstead, increasing the total to 65 employee-owners of the firm. The advisory business of WST will be rebranded as Clearstead Advisory Solutions, a Division of Clearstead Advisors, LLC and continue serving clients from offices in Norfolk and Roanoke, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

WST was founded in 1990 by Chief Executive Wayne Wilbanks, who will continue to lead the Division in Norfolk and the Mid-Atlantic states. Its 45 employees provide financial advisory services to families and individuals, institutions, and financial service firms nationwide. Mr. Wilbanks says, “We are philosophically similar to Clearstead in our client approach and a strong complement geographically, given our presence in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states. Most importantly, our clients will benefit from Clearstead’s family office planning capabilities, alternative investments platform, in-house research, and wealth management capabilities.”

Founded in 1989 with its headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, Clearstead currently serves nearly 1,200 individual and family clients – integrating tax, planning, and family office services with investment management – and over 245 endowments and foundations, retirement plans, and hospitals.

In 2022, Clearstead received a majority equity investment from Flexpoint Ford, a private equity firm specializing in financial services and healthcare investments. Since then, the firm has continued to grow organically and through acquisitions and strategic hires, with WST its largest acquisition to date. Recent acquisitions and expansions include Burkhart & Co. and Snow Financial Advisors, both Cleveland-based wealth managers; Avalon Trust, a Santa Fe, New Mexico financial advisor; CLS Consulting, a Cleveland family office services advisor; and a team of eight financial professionals who joined from the Hudson, Ohio office of a major financial services firm.

Commenting on the firm’s growth strategy, Clearstead Chief Executive Dave Fulton says, “Strategic and prudent mergers make us a stronger firm – each brings talent and capabilities to serve clients more effectively, which is our primary focus. This is the impetus for our combination with WST, for which we have the highest hopes.”

The WST merger was signed in February 2024 and closed today.

About Clearstead Advisors, LLC:

Founded in 1989, and headquartered in Cleveland OH, Clearstead is an independent financial advisory firm serving wealthy families and leading institutions across the country. As a fiduciary, it provides wealth management services and investment consulting to enable clients to meet their financial objectives, achieve their aspirations, and build strong futures. Learn more at: https://www.clearstead.com

About Wilbanks Smith and Thomas Asset Management, LLC:

Founded in 1990, Wilbanks Smith & Thomas Asset Management, LLC (WST) is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm based in Norfolk, Virginia that manages or advises over $5 billion in assets as of December 31, 2023, across wealth management, institutional advisory consulting, and advisor solutions (sub-advisory) channels.