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Toronto-based Raymond James Ltd. announced on Thursday that it will become Canada’s largest independent investment dealer as a result of its agreement to acquire Montreal-based MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier Inc., commonly known as 3Macs.

The deal will bring 3Macs’ 72 investment advisors, who manage approximately $6 billion in client assets under administration (AUA), to Raymond James, increasing the acquiring firm’s AUA to $33 billion and its advisor count to 450.

The calibre of 3Macs’ advisors was a selling point for Raymond James, said Paul Allison, chairman and CEO of Raymond James, during a conference call on Thursday.

“In particular, we were attracted to the quality of the financial advisors, 51 of whom are registered portfolio managers, which is a very high standard in wealth management to achieve and to attain,” he explained. “As a result of that, the firm has a very high percentage of fee-based assets. In fact, they would be one of the leaders in the industry in terms of establishing a fee-based business and one from which we believe we can learn from to elevate our fee-based business beyond where we are today.”

The acquisition is also a key element of Raymond James’ Canadian expansion strategy, said Allison: “[The move allows] us to really be able to build our business in the province of Quebec. The addition is very strategic for our business and really does take Raymond James to a new level [of] being very much a national firm with offices now from coast to coast.”

The acquired firm, which was founded in 1849, will continue to operate under the 3Macs brand as a division of Raymond James following the deal’s closing. This decision acknowledges 3Macs’ “important legacy and its long and distinguished history,” according to an announcement released Thursday.

Randy Ambrosie, president and CEO of 3Macs, will join Raymond James and report to Allison, but will remain in charge of 3Macs’ business. Key members of 3Macs’ management team will remain under Ambrosie’s leadership. Tim Price, chairman of 3Macs, will join Raymond James’ board of directors.

The decision to sell 3Macs to Raymond James came after a process of many months, in which 3Macs was looking for a partner that would fit its client-centric business, said Ambrosie during the conference call. The firm felt Raymond James was the best fit and would allow 3Macs to expand its service offering.

“Raymond James has built a fantastic business around solutions for clients, financial planning and their investment and technology systems that help serve their advisors, and ultimately help their advisors serve their clients, are second to none,” he said. “The ability to layer on our deep commitment to our people with a new and exciting technology and infrastructure platform that Raymond James has built is incredibly exciting.”

The acquisition comes as Raymond James’ U.S.-based parent, Raymond James Financial Inc., looks to quadruple its Canadian assets under management (AUM), with the help of a recruiting strategy designed to attract advisors looking for non-proprietary products and advanced tech tools.

Raymond James Ltd. is aiming to boost its Canadian AUA to $100 billion. In January, the firm’s AUA in Canada was $26.6 billion. The executive management team was aiming for 10% compounded annual growth, said Richard Rousseau, executive vice president and head of wealth management for Raymond James’s private client group, in an interview with Investment Executive in January.

At the time, Rousseau said he would “be disappointed if we don’t get to the $60-billion range within five years.”

The transaction is subject to customary approvals including regulatory and shareholder approval by 3Macs’ employees, who own the firm. If there are not any delays in various approvals, the transaction is expected to close this summer, Allison said.

With files from Fiona Collie