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Deal vaults Chicago's Cresset into wealth management big leagues

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It’s taken Cresset Asset Management just four years from a standing start to become a top 10 U.S. investment advisory firm.

The Chicago-based wealth manager, launched in 2017 by private-equity competitors Avy Stein and Eric Becker, is acquiring Atlanta-based Berman Capital Advisors. With $4.7 billion in assets under management, Berman’s addition to Cresset will bring the Chicago firm’s assets to $20 billion.

The inspiration for Cresset was frustration, Stein and Becker said when they launched it. Both wealthy, Stein and Becker didn’t like the choices they had for management of their own money.

Cresset was forged as a boutique alternative to far larger wealth managers for wealthy families whose financial needs are complex and must be managed almost like a company oversees its balance sheet.

The deal, announced yesterday, is expected to close tomorrow.

“Cresset is the partner we’ve been seeking to take our business to the next level, offer our clients an even broader array of services, and provide career development opportunities and increased ownership for our team,” Berman Capital founder Justin Berman said in a release.

All 33 of Berman’s employees will join Cresset.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

Cresset serves 11 U.S. markets, including Atlanta. This deal will make Cresset a far more substantial player in Atlanta.