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Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q3 2020]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q3 2020 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.

16 of the top 20 investment banks were new to the list in Q3, with the remaining 4 firms returning from Q2. 

708 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q3. 

Here are the top 20.

Top 20 Investment Banks


Rank Firm HQ Score
1 Network 1 Financial NY .99
2 Mertz Taggart FL .99
3 Clayton Capital Partners MO .98
4 Woodbridge International CT .98
5 Peakstone Group IL .98
6 Liberty Ridge Advisors WA .98
7 SECTOR Advisors GA .97
8 eMerge M&A NY .97
9 Vertess AZ .97
10 National Security Capital Advisors MD .96
11 Tsalach Corporate Finance IL .96
12 Frontier Investment Banking Corp KS .96
13 Mountain Summit Advisors UT .95
14 Clarke Advisors AZ .94
15 Austin Dale Group TX .93
16 Gilbert & Pardue Business Advisors TX .92
17 Flatirons Capital Advisors CO .92
18 Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions ON .92
19 Forbes M+A CO .92
 20 Providium Advisors NC .92


Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Cornerstone Business Services WI
SJC Business Capital CO
Momentum Advisory Partners CA
Axis Global Advisory PR
Osage Advisors CT


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
UHY Advisors Corporate Finance MI
Cascade Partners  MI
Bowman/Hanson CA
True North Strategic Advisors IN
The Turris Group TX


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Tennessee Valley Group TN
Strategic Finance CO
Chatsworth Securities  CT
Infinity Financial Group TX
Footprint Capital OH

Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
Pharus Group FL
Peak Technology Partners CA
Sunfield Advisors NC
RR Mergers & Acquisitions MO
The Tenney Group TN


About the Top 20




“Network 1 is a full-service investment bank, brokerage, asset manager and advisory firm that provides creative capital solutions for corporate, governmental and institutional entities across the globe. Our reputation for integrity and service, coupled with our track record of success, has allowed us to serve an expanding number of clients from coast to coast. With 10 retail offices, a global institutional distribution network, an extensive trading desk and a strong partnership with banks, it has allowed Network 1 Financial Securities, Inc. to create a powerful and growing global financial services firm.”

Visit Network 1 Financial’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



“Mertz Taggart is an industry-leading mergers and acquisitions firm specializing in home health, home care, hospice, and behavioral health. This focus yields invaluable insight into the challenges and opportunities operators face. The depth of our industry knowledge is garnered by our relationships with industry leaders, knowledge of buyers’ acquisition strategies, and our hands-on experience owning and operating a healthcare company. Our competitive advantages translate to maximizing value for our clients, as proven by over 90 successfully completed healthcare transactions since 2006. ”

Visit Mertz Taggart’s Profile

Industries: Health Care



“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



“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



“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



“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



“SECTOR Advisors helps companies successfully plan and execute merger & acquisition transactions. Our investment banking services are tailored to each client. We only serve the middle-market and exclusively serve three sectors: technology, healthcare, and consumer. Our core focus and industry coverage leads to deeper and more meaningful relationships with companies, buyers, and investors, and better outcomes for our clients.”

Visit Sector Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Consumer Goods, Technology, Health Care, Consumer Services



“Originally founded in 1989, our mission is to provide a level of expertise, knowledge, and execution not typically available to owners of privately-held middle market companies. With offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and California, eMerge M&A is perhaps the most experienced and data rich M&A firm serving this market segment. No one has more experience with privately-held companies.”

Visit eMerge M&A’s Profile

Industries: Aerospace & Defense, Business Services, Construction, Consumer, Distribution, Energy, Health & Medical, Manufacturing, Media & Advertising, Technology, 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



“We are a niche firm focused on Government Contracting with deep roots within the CyberSecurity, National Security Mission, and Intelligence Community market segments. We predominantly represent companies generating $10M-$100M in revenue and $1M-20M in EBITDA. Most of our clients are Technology-centric and, in many cases, have developed services and solutions that apply to both government and commercial use-cases.”

Visit National Security Capital Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Technology, Business Services, Telecommunications



“Tsalach Corporate Finance was formed by Paul Nelsen with the aim of becoming the leading broker of privately held businesses in the UK and North America. The word Tsalach – pronounced zalak – means prosperity, success and to go forward in power. This seemed to us an ideal name that sums up our ethos and intent.”

Visit Tsalach Corporate Finance’s Profile

Industries: Agriculture, Technology, Business Services, Industrials



“Frontier Investment Banking is a leading, boutique investment banking firm focused on providing Merger & Acquisition, Corporate Finance and other advisory services to middle market companies and their owners.”

Visit Frontier Investment Banking’s Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Software & Technology, Health Care, Consumer Products, Logistics & Transportation, Supply & Distribution, Chemical, Aerospace, Food & Agribusiness, Steel & Metals, Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment, Advertising & Marketing Services, Consumer Services, Financial Services, Financial Institutions, Business Services, Building Construction, Utilities & Energy Services, Retail, Industrial Services, Oil & Gas



“Mountain Summit Advisors is a specialty firm focused on mergers and acquisition of primarily healthcare technology and services firms. Mountain Summit Partners (MSA) was founded in 2012 by principals that have had extensive experience in the world of Healthcare IT products and services. These Healthcare senior executives have built firms organically and through acquisition. By buying and selling firms over the past 30 years, the MSA executives bring a unique operational “hands on” perspective to the marketplace.”

Visit Mountain Summit Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Healthcare Technology & Services



“Clarke Advisors LLC is a specialized Financial Advisory and Merchant Banking Firm, providing the highest quality Investment Banking services including institutional financing, merger, acquisition and divestiture for small to medium-sized private and public companies. Clarke’s Industry Focus is Transportation, Logistics and Technology. Members of Clarke are FINRA Licensed Series 7, 79 and 63 . Based in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Clarke’s services include: Sell-Side, Buy-Side and Capital Market placements including; venture capital, private equity and debt recapitalization’s Clarke’s Merchant Banking services include principal transactions in profitable lower middle market entities. ”

Visit Clarke Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Technology, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Industrials



“We help IT and technical service companies accomplish their merger, acquisition, divestiture, and exit goals. We specialize in privately-owned IT service companies, Internet and software businesses, and environmental firms. We offer a full range of M & A services related to the buying and selling of private companies. We also work with entrepreneurs to help them prepare and optimize their businesses for an eventual sale or merger.”

Visit Austin Dale Group’s Profile

Industries: Technology, Business Services



“Gilbert & Pardue (GaP) is a Houston based Business Advisory firm offering Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory and Brokerage, Business Owner/CEO Coaching and Business Consulting services to lower-middle and middle market companies. We work closely with business owners and CEOs to create added value in their business and then assist them in converting that value into liquid wealth, primarily through executing a well-designed exit strategy.”

Visit Gilbert & Pardue’s Profile

Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials



“Flatirons is the premier lower middle-market investment bank with extensive expertise in mergers and acquisitions. With thousands of strategic and financial buyer relationships we help our clients attract the most optimal transaction partner.”

Visit Flatirons Capital Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Industrials, Software, Advertising, Digital & Social Media



“Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation is a mid-market mergers & acquisitions brokerage with an exclusive focus on company divestitures, acquisitions and buyouts. We have been a sell side intermediary firm since 1987. Mercantile has consummated over l72 transactions in a number of industries and market sectors. Transaction sizes have ranged in amounts of $1 million to $58,203,000.”

Visit Mercantile M&A Corp’s Profile

Industries:Financial Services, Consumer Services



“The Forbes M+A Group, an investment bank, provides strategic and financial advisory services in the United States and internationally. It advises clients in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations and restructurings, capital markets advisory, and other corporate finance matters. The Company has broad industry expertise and typical transaction sizes range from $10M to $250M, with the average size range falling between $25M-$50M.”

Visit Forbes M+A’s Profile

Industries: Technology, Energy & Utilities, Consumer Goods, Health Care, Life Sciences



“Providium was founded in 2016 out of a desire to bring top-tier corporate finance and advisory services to smaller privately held companies. Our team has over 50 years and hundreds of billions of dollars of finance, investment banking, small business mergers and acquisitions and private company valuation experience. We have worked for some of the largest investment banks in the world and yet have also owned and operated many small businesses. This unique combination of skills and experience enables us to bring a high level of success to our clients. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy and yet the top investment banking firms focus all of their time and attention on Fortune 500 and 100 companies. At Providium, we love focusing solely on the small business universe and find that working with the owners and management teams of smaller companies is much more rewarding.”

Visit Providium Advisors’ Profile

Industries: Software & Technology


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 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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