The Middle Market Review Insights on the Middle Market.

Subscribe Subscribe

Subscribe Today

I want to receive:

Thanks for subscribing!


Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q2]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q2 2019 Lower Middle Market League Tables.

Axial league tables take into account three main characteristics: client quality, buy-side targeting, and 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.

We saw 8 boutique investment banks added to the list in Q2, and 12 firms returning from our top 20 list from Q1.

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

Here are the top 20.

Top 20 Investment Banks


Rank Firm HQ Score
1 Hilliard Lyons KY .99
2 Peakstone Group IL .98
3 Osage Advisors CT .97
4 Signet Capital Advisors OH .96
5 Evangeline Securities LA .96
6 RLS Associates DE .95
7 FourBridges Capital TN .95
8 SDR Ventures CO .95
9 CTX Capital Securities TX .95
10 Strategic M&A Advisors MS .94
11 Strategic Finance CO .94
12 Affinity Ventures NM .93
13 Tully & Holland MA .93
14 Cappello Global CA .92
15 The Astor Group NY .92
16 Merger Partners TX .92
17 Footprint Capital OH .92
18 Bravaldo Capital Advisors GA .91
19 Solganick & Co. CA .91
20 FirePower Capital ON .91


Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Sica Fletcher NY
O’Keefe & O’Malley KS
New Direction Partners PA
DBD Partners NY
Harbinger Ventures Group NY


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
Roadmap Advisors VA
League Park Advisors OH
Chesapeake Corporate Advisors MD
Farlie Turner & Co. FL
Triangle Capital LLC NY


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Liberty Ridge Advisors WA
martinwolf M&A Advisors AZ
Baker Tilly Capital IL
GreerWalker Corporate Finance NC
Tsalach Corporate Finance IL


Industry Specialists

Firm Industry Focus HQ
martinwolf M&A Advisors IT & Tech-Enabled Services AZ
Sica Fletcher Insurance NY
Solganick & Co. Software & Tech-Enabled Services CA
SF&P Advisors HVAC & Plumbing FL
New Direction Partners Printing & Packaging PA


About the Top 20


“Hilliard Lyons Investment Banking employs a full-service model that brings “Wall Street” resources and experience to emerging growth and middle market companies. With offices in Louisville and Cincinnati, our bankers specialize in advising clients in M&A, capital raising, and business valuation across the country. Hilliard Lyons Investment Banking is a division of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, LLC, a full-service wealth management firm with over $50 billion in client assets, headquartered in Louisville, KY.” Visit Hilliard Lyons’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Healthcare, Real Estate


“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


“Founded in 2001, Osage Advisors is a boutique Investment Banking firm dedicated to helping business owners receive the maximum value from the sale of their companies. We use traditional investment banking techniques, typically not available to owners of closely-held businesses to create a competitive environment that delivers multiple options and the best prices for our clients.”  Visit Osage Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Technology



“Signet Capital Advisors unites an entrepreneurial vision with the experience to turn opportunities into realities.  With decades of experience, our principals provide highly specialized knowledge and expertise in distinct disciplines including sell side advisory, buy side advisory, capital raise, and debt placement. Signet Capital Advisors is an affiliate of Signet Enterprises.”  Visit Signet Capital Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Distribution, Financial Services, Industrials, Health Care



“Evangeline Securities provides investment banking services to lower middle market companies across a broad spectrum of industries. With offices in Lafayette and New Orleans, LA, the firm offers corporate finance, securities placement, M&A and restructuring expertise. Evangeline professionals bring their collective decades of experience to each assignment, having raised institutional capital and performed advisory services for deal sizes ranging from $10 million to over $100 million.” Visit Evangeline Securities’ Profile


Industries: Consumer & Retail, Energy, Gaming & Leisure, Healthcare, Industrial Services, Manufacturing, Technology, IT Services, Real Estate, Business Services



“RLS Associates is a middle market private investment banking firm specializing in Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures and Strategic Management Consulting services to middle market companies with sales of $1M to $100M.RLS serves a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, service and technology. The common theme to most assignments is that at least one of the parties to each transaction will be closely-held business.” Visit RLS Associates’ Profile


Industries: Industrials, Manufacturing, Business Services, Technology, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Materials


“FourBridges Capital is an investment banking firm that serves business owners across the Southeast. We act as the interface between our clients and the capital markets, helping them to identify potential investors or acquisition targets and successfully complete transactions. Our senior professionals draw on both expertise in investment banking and experience as C-level executives, and they have spent most of their careers serving the middle market.” Visit FourBridges Capital’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing & Industrial Services, Consumer Goods & Services, Media, Healthcare, Technology, Financial Services, Real Estate, Business Services, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Technology


“SDR Ventures is a Denver-based investment banking firm serving private business owners in the lower middle market, including companies with values up to $300 million. The SDR Ventures approach of THINKING LIKE OWNERS helps businesses maximize their value. Whether owners are looking to sell a business, buy a business or raise debt or equity, SDR is committed to helping them succeed.” Visit SDR Venture’s Profile


Industries: Consumer Products, Agriculture, Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage, Distribution, Manufacturing, Business Services, Healthcare, Technology



“CTX Capital Securities partners with middle market companies to provide them with Business Advisory and Investment Banking services. Our goal is to assist our partner companies in the evolution of their business as a trusted advisor for many years to come. Ultimately…we want to give you tour time back as a business owner. We are pleased to have the ability through established networks to provide capital sourcing services for our clients. We feel that the ability for you to utilize a professional in your capital sourcing process can be one that will pay dividends both in the present and future.” Visit CTX Capital Securities’ Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer goods, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare, Industrials, Financial Services, Media, Technology



“Strategic M&A Advisors, LLC (“SMAA”) specializes in exit strategies and confidential business divestitures. The members of SMAA have been assisting middle-market business owners during the final stages of the business life-cycle for over two decades in our capacities as lawyers, accountants, corporate risk managers, and business advisors.” Visit Strategic M&A Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer goods, Consumer Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Industrials, Financial Services



“Strategic Finance is a team of senior investment bankers dedicated to guiding expansion stage and middle market companies in their growth and exit plans. We offer private placement of debt and equity, negotiate mergers and acquisitions and arrange strategic partnerships for clients in a wide range of industries. We also offer the attention and focus of a boutique firm, with experienced professionals handling every transaction.” Visit Strategic Finance’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Industrial Automation, Transportation, Enterprise Software, IT Services & Consulting, Cloud Hosting, Digital Media



“Affinity Ventures is a nationally recognized merger and acquisitions firm, specializing in complete advisory services to middle market companies. Our experienced transaction team has a rich history of helping clients with business valuations, divestiture preparation, buyer identification and the complete facilitation of buy and sell side transactions since 1994. Our deal team has substantial hands-on knowledge in a wide variety of industries -including work with private, public and non-profit entities- helping business owners complete their transaction with the utmost in confidentiality and efficiency.” Visit Affinity Ventures’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Materials, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Technology


“Tully & Holland is a boutique investment banking firm founded in 1992 that provides financial advisory services to the consumer sector. Tully & Holland consistently ranks among the nation’s most active investment banks in the Food & Beverage, Direct Marketing and Retail sectors. The firm offers merger and acquisition advisory, management buyouts, private placements and valuation services. The firm focuses on the middle market and typically handles transactions between $10 million and $200 million.” Visit Tully & Hollands’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing & Industrial Services, Consumer Goods & Services, Media, Healthcare, Technology, Financial Services, Real Estate, Business Services, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Technology



“Our mission, simply stated, is to help talented management teams leading companies with strong fundamentals to best meet their needs for capital and strategic growth. To this end, we incorporate the following philosophy into our daily activities: We customize financing solutions without “pushing” products or services to fulfill each client’s unique needs within the context of its strategic plan. We are fierce advocates for our clients and structure transactions to maximize their valuations and best interests.” Visit Cappello Global’s Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer Products & Services, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Real Estate, Gaming, Hospitality, Technology, Media & Telecommunications



“Astor Group is an independent investment bank and strategic advisory firm. We partner with compelling companies to develop strategy, identify and execute mergers and acquisitions, raise capital, and solve financial and operational challenges. Unfettered by corporate hierarchy or complexity, we act nimbly and decisively on behalf of our clients and draw on our deep experiences as founders and operators of early stage companies and large-scale corporations.” Visit Astor Group’s Profile


Industries: Consumer Goods, Technology, Business Services, Consumer Services, Media



“Merger Partners’ Sniper Process® provides business owners with a better alternative to today’s standard M&A process to find a partner or sell their companies. It’s leaner, faster and more effective than today’s auctions which have driven many buyers of companies to the sidelines. Because Sniper is also a buyer friendly process, it covers the universe of buyers more thoroughly while driving up value for the seller through a competitive process where the most compelling buyers in the world compete to acquire the company.” Visit Merger Partner’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Industrials, Energy & Utilities



“In our opinion, critical elements to providing sound advice come from experiences, a willingness to learn, and diversity. Each member of our team has followed a distinct path, giving us a view into mergers and acquisitions from all angles. These varying business perspectives include those of acquisition advisors, company owners, lenders, investors, internal strategists, accountants, and from within Fortune 500 companies. We have seen what works in successful engagements and how to predict and prevent problems in transactions. Such expertise means we can put ourselves in a client’s shoes and avoid the pitfalls from initial planning until long after the transaction has closed.” Visit Footprint Capital’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Business Services, Distribution, Consumer Services



“Bravaldo Capital Advisors is a boutique Atlanta based Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance Advisory Firm, providing independent economic and financial advice and execution services for lower middle market companies with revenues typically from $10 million to $300 million that are primarily located in the Southeastern United States. We offer a full range of transaction and advisory services, guiding our clients through sell-side transactions and exit strategy planning, growth through acquisition, debt restructuring and corporate recapitalization.” Visit Bravaldo Capital’s Profile


Industries: Industrials, Information Technology, Healthcare, Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Financial Services, Media, Retail


“We are an independent investment bank and M&A advisory firm founded in 2009 that specializes in the Technology and Digital Media industry sectors. Our professionals have completed over $20 billion in transactions to date and have experience in investment banking, private equity and capital markets from leading firms. We are experts in completing complex mergers and acquisitions transactions of most shapes and sizes including strategic mergers, private equity, and majority sale transactions.” Visit Solganick and Co.’s Profile


Industries: Software, IT Services, Tech-enabled Services, Healthcare IT, Digital Media, eCommerce, Financial Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Infrastructure, Cybersecurity


“FirePower Capital advises and invests in Canada’s entrepreneurs. We guide promising mid-market companies to complete mission-critical transactions such as acquiring a competitor or selling to a strategic buyer. Typical deal size is between $5m and $250m. We also lend between $1-20m in the form of venture debt, to fast-growing companies with >$2m of revenues. Venture debt is beneficial to them because it avoids the dilution hit of an equity round; or, if bank debt is unavailable or insufficient, venture debt plugs that gap.” Visit Firepower Capital’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy, Technology, Financial Services, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Healthcare, Consumer Services, Media, Life Sciences, Telecommunications


League Table Methodology


Unlike traditional league table structures that have remained the same for years, with firms being 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 three 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

Axial League Table data incorporates and includes:

  • 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 1,600 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

Get in Touch

Email [email protected] to learn more.

Learn More About Joining Axial

Request Information

Subscribe to Middle Market Review

Subscribe to Middle Market Review

Subscribe Today

I want to receive:

Thanks for subscribing!