Just 18 months after announcing their merger, Akambo Financial Group and First Financial have entered a partnership with New York-based strategic capital provider Merchant Investment Management.

The specific terms of a minority non-controlling partnership haven’t been made public, but Professional Planner can reveal the deal gives Akambo and First Financial access to capital to fund business growth, with oversight from Merchant.

The merger of the two Melbourne-based advice firms created an entity with 110 staff, 3000 clients and $3 billion in funds under management.

Akambo managing director Anthony Kapetanovic told Professional Planner last year the merger with First Financial was a “no brainer” in the post-Hayne royal commission environment where scale is a necessity to survive, and he hinted further expansion was possible.

A boutique wealth manager, Akambo had built a strong direct-to-consumer business leveraging a near decade-long sponsorship of AFL club Melbourne Demons to build its profile in Victoria.

The Merchant deal follows an announcement in late September that the equity provider had taken a non-controlling stake in risk advisory firm MBS Insurance.

Merchant entered the Australian market just over a year ago, citing the strong regulatory environment and large superannuation retirement pool as key attractions.

Akambo and First Financial agreed to partner with Merchant after due diligence, citing cultural alignment, autonomy, and the freedom to continue investing in solutions that present growth opportunities.

Merchant Australia partner David Haintz said both firms provide a “natural platform” for expansion to assist in the undersupply of advice to Australians.

“Since opening their doors in 2007, Akambo has developed into a thriving and highly successful integrated financial services business, together with First Financial, investing in excess of $3.4 billion in AUM [assets under management] and comprised of an internal team of in excess of 100 experienced professionals with broad industry experience, as well as a significant number of external authorised representatives tapping into the group’s resources,” Haintz said.

“We are delighted in the opportunity to help facilitate continued entrepreneurship and leadership in First Financial and Akambo by further empowering their advisers, business partners and clients through market-leading advice, investment solutions, and our ecosystem.”