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Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q2 2021]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q2 2021 Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables.

Our investment banking league tables rank sell-side M&A advisors based on their Axial activity, incorporating three core M&A advisory attributes: client quality, buy-side targeting, and deal process effectiveness (for detailed methodology, see the end of this feature).

For CEOs and dealmakers in the lower middle market, these league tables are a useful barometer to measure how an investment bank ranks against its peers, and how effective they are in financing and selling lower middle market businesses in various sectors.

854 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q2. 

Here are the top 20.

Top 20 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ Score
1 Peakstone Group IL .99
2 Vertess Healthcare Advisors, LLC TX .98
3 Global Wired Advisors NC .98
4 Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors PA .98
5 Woodbridge International CT .97
6 MedWorld Advisors MA .97
7 Merritt Healthcare Advisors CT .97
8 FOCUS Investment Banking VA .96
9 Liberty Ridge Advisors WA .96
10 Clayton Capital Partners MO .96
11 ACT Capital Advisors WA .95
12 Seapoint Business Advisors CA .94
13 IT ExchangeNet OH .94
14 Baker Group M&A Consultants KS .94
15 Skyway Capital Markets FL .93
16 JD Merit & Company WA .93
17 Britehorn Partners CO .93
18 Kaulkin Ginsberg MD .92
19 Strategic Exit Advisors PA .92
 20 The Hatteras Group NC .92


Honorable Mentions


Client Quality

Firm HQ
Vesticor Advisors MI
Corporate Finance Associates – San Francisco CA
Water Street Advisors WI
Fox & Fin Financial Group AZ
EBB Group TX


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
CalTex Capital Partners LLC TX
Infinity Financial Group TX
STS Capital Partners TO
Affinity Ventures, Inc NM
Pavilion Business Services BC


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Eisen Fox & Company WI
MFS Capital Advisors NY
Salt Creek Partners TX
B. Riley Securities CA
R.L. Hulett & Company, Inc. MO


Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
New Direction Partners PA
Mertz Taggart FL
Triangle Healthcare Advisors IL
Corum Group WA
M+A Squared NY


About the Top 20




“The Peakstone Group is an investment bank that specializes in mergers and acquisitions advisory and capital raising for middle market clients. Our team is comprised of senior investment banking professionals and operating executives, all of whom have decades of experience and have executed hundreds of transactions totaling billions of dollars.”

Visit Peakstone’s Profile

Industries: Business Services, Consumer & Retail, Distribution, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Healthcare, Industrials & Manufacturing, Metals & Mining, Mortgage Banking, Paper, Plastics & Packaging, Real Estate, Technology & Data Services, Transportation & Logistics



“Vertess was formed by a visionary group of results-oriented professionals as an alternative to traditional M+A firms and investment banks. We focus primarily on your personal and professional goals and help facilitate transactions that make sense to you for the long term. We guarantee integrity, confidentiality and a commitment to the best outcome for you, your company and your family. Whether a start-up, a turnaround, the sale of your business or acquisition of another, we will provide outstanding, personal service.”

Visit Vertess’ Profile

Industries: Health Care, Life Sciences



“Global Wired Advisors is a leading Digital Investment Bank focused on helping founders and families exit the highly successful companies they have built. The firm specializes in sell-side M&A Advisory engagements in the e-commerce ecosystem, including consumer brands and e-tailers, Amazon-centric businesses, SaaS companies, digital marketing agencies, and logistics and fulfillment businesses.”

Visit Global Wired Advisors Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution



“Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors is a regional investment banking firm offering unparalleled expertise, advice and experience in the transfer of ownership within middle market privately-held companies. With offices and a team of professionals in Lewisburg, Harrisburg and Sayre, we are widely regarded as central and southeastern Pennsylvania’s leading investment banking and strategic consulting firm for mid-size companies.”

Visit Murphy McCormack’s Profile

Industries: Distribution, Financial Services, Media



“Woodbridge is an M&A firm with 19 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, providing clients with the local knowledge and global reach they demand. Our U.S. team is committed to providing sellers with a dynamic global marketplace of buyers in which to find the best possible value for their company. Our bankers have collectively closed over 500 transactions (5 since March) and know success can only be achieved when the deal process is not allowed to languish. That’s why our entire global team is focused on selling your company in 200 days from the time of engagement.”

Visit Woodbridge International’s Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications



“MedWorld Advisors is a healthcare mergers and acquisitions firm that specializes in helping small to medium size Medical Device, MedTech, BioTech, BioMed, Life Sciences and HealthCare companies to reach their goals. Our M&A consulting experts create value growth for our Mid Market customers and help them take their businesses to the next stage. With over 50 years of relationships in these markets and a true global footprint as a healthcare mergers and acquisitions firm, we can help you be successful in making your goals happen.”

Visit MedWorld Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Health Care



“Merritt Healthcare Advisors (MHA) is focused exclusively on representing owners of surgical facilities, healthcare practices and other healthcare related sub-sectors that are considering strategic options, whether it is selling an interest in their organization, creating a new partnership or growing through acquisition. MHA is unique in that we are the only firm that combines an investment banking background* with actual “owners” experience that comes from developing and managing our own healthcare facilities. We have used this experience to successfully complete more than $4 billion in transactions on behalf of our Clients. As the industry’s leading Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) firm, our proven process and extensive buyer network enables us to help our Clients realize the absolute best financial and non-financial outcomes.”

Visit Merritt Healthcare Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Health Care



“With more than three decades of experience, FOCUS Investment Banking is a trusted name in middle market M&A advisory services worldwide. FOCUS works to understand each client’s strategic and financial objectives, craft the best plan to achieve these goals and deliver success. FOCUS is a partner driven firm and all 25+ bankers are seasoned C-level operating executives and most have participated in transactions as a principal. Our cadre of over 30 senior advisors are available to advise and assist bankers when deep industry domain knowledge is appropriate.”

Visit FOCUS Investment Banking’s Profile

Industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive, Energy, Government, Aerospace & Defense, Health Care, Technology, Telecommunications



“Liberty Ridge is the most difficult and treacherous trek on the Pacific Northwest’s iconic Mt. Rainier. As founders, with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, we consider Liberty Ridge the perfect metaphor to represent the challenging yet rewarding endeavors that a merger or acquisition can be for business owners.”

Visit Liberty Ridge’s Profile

Industries: Business Services, Consumer Products & Services, Energy, Industrials, Manufacturing, Distribution, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Technology



“Independent of Clayton Capital Partners, our firm’s professionals have owned and operated more than 30 companies. Selling a business requires a specialist, not a general practitioner. At CCP, our sole focus is on successfully closing M&A transactions for our clients. We have no conflict of interest from corporate initiatives to sell multiple products and services to every client. We don’t sell you what you don’t need. Our clients are located from coast to coast and our specialists have closed more than 200 M&A transactions.”

Visit Clayton Capital Partners’ Profile

Industries: Aerospace, HVAC, Transportation, Software & Technology, Manufacturing, Business Services



“ACT Capital Advisors has facilitated the mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures of hundreds of companies. Our principals have closed mergers and acquisitions totaling over $2 billion in total corporate transactional value. Our team consists of dedicated professionals who apply their extensive expertise and experience to achieve maximum value for their companies and clients. We work closely with our client’s financial and legal advisors. With multiple decades of experience, ACT’s principals have represented a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing, contracting, wholesale, distribution and service industries. Our track record of success has provided us with an understanding and appreciation of the unique challenges presented by each industry, and allows us to continue to best realize the goals of our clients.”

Visit ACT Capital Partners’ Profile

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Retail, Technology, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications



“Seapoint Business Advisors is full service independent mergers and acquisitions firm focused on providing sound advice to business owners on the sale of their businesses. It was founded on the premise that many clients can be better served by a firm that offers transaction and brokerage advice from advisors with over 60 years of combined business experience in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, software and technology, telecommunications, business services and healthcare.”

Visit Seapoint Business Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Technology, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Telecommunications, Media



“The IT ExchangeNet serves buyers and sellers in the IT services and consulting industry. Founded in 1998 by technology CEOs and M&A professionals, IT ExchangeNet is an organized and efficient virtual marketplace for owners of mid-market IT businesses seeking buyers or strategic partners. We follow a disciplined and highly targeted process, bringing buyers and sellers together to close deals with transaction values of less than $25 million.”

Visit IT ExchangeNet’s Profile

Industries: Financial Services, Technology, Business Services


“Baker Group M&A Consultants, Inc. is different in numerous ways. Jerry Baker, the President of the Baker Group has over 50 years experience as an entrepreneur, who started and developed many companies over his career. He can relate to a business of any size. His knowledge acquired over the years is extremely helpful in developing a relationship with clients. Since 1988, Jerry Baker’s companies have consulted with and successfully concluded over 200 transactions in numerous industries. Jerry’s experience in starting companies, building companies, taking companies public, selling companies, dealing with national accounting firms and major law firms in numerous negotiations and leading and mentoring employees to successful careers is priceless when it comes to selecting a deal maker. Baker Group M&A Consultants can discuss with clients different types of transactions and structures to consider.”

Visit Baker Group M&A’s Profile

Industries: Health Care



“Skyway is a full-service, industry agnostic, boutique investment bank focused on the lower middle market. The Company is headquartered in Tampa, FL, and specializes in M&A advisory as well as raising growth capital in the form of equity or debt. The Company also offers corporate finance, valuation, advisory and restructuring services.”

Visit Skyway Capital Markets’ Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Consumer Services, Life Sciences, Telecommunications



“JD Merit is a leading boutique investment bank focused on middle market companies. As a full-service Broker / Dealer, licensed in all 50 states, JD Merit executes sell-side M&A, buy-side M&A, and capital advisory services. In addition, JD Merit offers other Investment banking services such as debt and equity capital raises, corporate finance and valuation, and real estate & project finance.”

Visit JD Merit & Company’s Profile

Industries: Industrials, Manufacturing, Business Services, Financial Services, Technology, Consumer Goods, Distribution, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Media, Real Estate, Consumer Services, Telecommunications



“Britehorn Partners specializes in working with high-growth public and private companies across a variety of industry verticals. We offer a full range of services including capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity restructurings, specialized transactions and corporate growth strategy. Our model of relationship banking, coupled with skilled execution, results in multiple assignments with our valued clients. To us, a client is more than a transaction, a client is a partner.”

Visit Britehorn Partners’ Profile

Industries: Technology, Media, Business Services, Health Care, Life Sciences, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Industrials, Retail



“Kaulkin Ginsberg is the foremost M&A and strategic advisor to the outsourced business services industry with a focus on the accounts receivable management, revenue cycle management, and customer relationship management sectors. We also serve middle-market companies based in the D.C. region. Owners, executives, and professionals rely on us for the insight, access, and information needed to make critical decisions.”

Visit Kaulkin Ginsberg’s Profile

Industries: Outsourced Business Services (accounts receivable management, revenue cycle management, and customer relationship management)



“SEA is The Entrepreneurs Investment Bank. We understand what entrepreneurs have been through to build their company, we help them realize that value. SEA engages with lower middles market companies with $2 to $10 million of EBITDA. The companies we represent all have great stories to tell. Our primarily focus is in the healthcare and technology space, and the intersection of the two.”

Visit SEA’s Profile

Industries: Business Services, Industrials, Technology, Life Sciences



“The Hatteras Group is a collaborative team of professional intermediaries and advisors, leading business owners and entrepreneurs as they navigate the complex and often emotional process of selling or buying a business.  In addition to matching up buyers and sellers and working to close on deals, we offer business valuations, growth consulting and sourcing of related debt and/or equity financing.”

Visit Hatteras Group’s Profile

Industries: Business Services, Industrials, Health Care

League Table Methodology


Unlike traditional league table structures that have remained the same for years, where firms are assessed against deal volume and deal dollar volume, Axial league tables surface data on investment banks that reveal their selectivity, the relative attractiveness of their client’s businesses, and their overall sell-side process efficacy.

The investment banks at the top of the Axial League Table are leaders across the following categories:

  • Client Quality: Buy-side demand for engagements represented by the advisor.
  • Buy-Side Targeting: The advisor’s ability to balance selectivity, accuracy, and breadth when identifying potential buyers.
  • Process Effectiveness: The advisor’s ability to generate positive outcomes for their client. 
  • Overall Deal Relevance: How many buy-side mandates (financial and strategic) align with the advisor’s engagements.
  • Process Selectivity: How broad or narrow are the advisors’ sell-side processes relative to their peers?
  • Signed NDAs: How many buyers indicate interest in each of the advisor’s engagements, measured by the number of signed NDAs.
  • Buyer Referrals: Feedback we receive from buyers regarding the manner in which the advisor manages their processes.
  • Closed Deals: How many deals has the advisor closed where they involved one or more Axial buyers in the process?

Together, the top 20 investment banks are those who work with the most in-demand clients; balance breadth, selectivity, and accuracy in the buyers they engage; and generate the largest number of positive outcomes for their clients.

About Axial

Axial is the trusted deal platform serving the lower middle market ($5-$250M TEV).

Over 3,500 advisory firms and 2,000 corporate and financial buyers have joined Axial to efficiently connect with relevant capital partners, source actionable deals, and build new relationships.

Visit the Member Closed Deals page to see selected transactions that have been sourced and closed via Axial.

Learn More      Request a Demo

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Email [email protected] to learn more.

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