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Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q3 2021]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q3 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.

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

Here are the top 20.

Top 20 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ Score
FOCUS Investment Banking VA .99
Sunfield Advisors NC .99
Woodbridge International CT .98
Peakstone Group IL .97
XLCS Partners IL .97
New Direction Partners PA .97
Merritt Advisors CT .97
Salt Creek Partners PA .97
MedWorld Advisors MA .96
SF&P Advisors FL .97
Transact Capital Partners VA .95
Everingham & Kerr NJ .94
Britehorn Partners CO .94
Baker Group M&A Consultants KS .94
JD Merit & Company WA .93
Peak Technology Partners CA .93
Clayton Capital Partners MO .93
Vertess TX .92
Beacon Equity Advisors MA .91
Blackrose Group LA .91

Downloadable image of Q3 2021’s League Table available here

Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Affinity Ventures NM
Kreloff Capital Partners NY
Brandywine Mergers & Acquisitions PA
Watercress Capital TN
Bleadon & Associates IL


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
High Rock Partners NC
Janas Associates CA
Glover Park Capital DC
PCI Technologies GA
Trudeau & Trudeau Associates MA


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
GS Equity Partners TX
Cornhusker Capital NE
Two Roads Advisors NY
JKL Business Solutions CA
Fore Capital NE


Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
TechStrat WA
Corum Group WA
Stump & Company NC
Potomac Business Capital MD
Global Wired Advisors NC


About the Top 20




“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.”

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

Visit FOCUS Investment Banking’s Profile



“Sunfield Advisors has a worldwide network of investors and investment groups seeking to invest in profitable and viable opportunities, often in a specific market or country for independent project deals. Our global Professionals who came from Diverse industry experiences proactively work to bring our clients the most valuable projects, providing holistic financial services and credit enhancement support to discerning clients.”

Industries: Health Care, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Business Services

Visit Sunfield Advisors’ Profile



“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.”

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

Visit Woodbridge International’s Profile



“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.”

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

Visit Peakstone’s Profile



“XLCS Partners, Inc. is an independent investment banking firm that provides M&A advisory, capital raising and debt advisory for select clients globally. Middle market companies and private equity funds rely on our creative solutions, thoughtful insight and truthful advice when considering exiting their companies, making strategic acquisitions, partnering with private equity sponsors and raising debt or equity capital.and raising debt or equity capital.”

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

Visit XLCS Partners’ Profile



“New Direction Partners provides advisory services in investment banking, valuation, financial advisory and management consulting. Our partners have unparalleled experience, with involvement in over 200 sales and mergers since 1979. We specialize in providing services to the printing, packaging and allied graphic arts industries with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions.”

Industries: Business Services, Printing, Packaging, Graphic Media

Visit New Direction Partners’ Profile



“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.”

Industries: Health Care

Visit Merritt Healthcare Advisors’ Profile



“Salt Creek Partners (“SCP”) is a boutique M&A advisory firm operating in the Southwest, Southeast, New England and Gulf Coast regions. SCP serves business leaders in the emerging growth and middle markets We specifically focus on clients looking to be acquired and companies wanting to make an acquisition We provide strategic consulting to re position and optimize companies wanting to sell in order to ultimately increase its valuation.”

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

Visit Salt Creek Partners’ Profile



“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.”

Industries: Health Care

Visit MedWorld Advisors’ Profile



“We have served as a trusted partner to businesses in the HVAC, Plumbing and Mechanical contractors, providing a range of services including valuation, accounting, research and financial analysis. Our goal is to serve not simply as a business brokerage, but as a success strategy firm, driving superior outcomes for our clients. We achieve this in particular by leveraging the strong relationships we have forged over in our niche industry focus.”

Industries: Plumbing, HVAC, Mechanical Services

Visit SF&P Advisor’s Profile



“Transact Capital and subsidiary, Transact Capital Securities, represent business owners in the confidential sales of their business. Founded in 1999, our firm’s 15 experienced professionals specialize in selling privately-owned, mid-tier businesses throughout the U.S with enterprise values of up to $50MM. We have cultivated a reputation for providing our clients with a team of extremely smart, truthful, deal-savvy, close-oriented professionals with a bias for action and an overwhelming concern for our client’s well-being.”

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

Visit Transact Capital Partners’ Profile



“Founded in 1988, Everingham & Kerr, Inc. is a merger and acquisition advisory firm that specializes in providing intermediary services for lower middle market companies and entrepreneurs. We have assisted clients across virtually all industries. We offer various services including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, valuations, and transaction consulting. Our client base has included public and private companies, investor groups, individual entrepreneurs, management buyout groups and family buyout participants.”

Industries: Business Services, Financial Services

Visit Everingham & Kerr’s Profile



“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.”

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

Visit Britehorn Partners’ Profile



“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.”

Industries: Health Care

Visit Baker Group M&A’s Profile



“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.”

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

Visit JD Merit & Company’s Profile



Peak Technology Partners is a boutique investment bank specializing in M&A and ​capital raise transactions for high-growth technology companies. The PEAK team has been advising technology companies on critical financing and strategic transactions for over 50 years, completing over 175 financing and M&A transactions with a combined deal value of over $100 billion. The PEAK team has prior experience with both bulge and middle-market investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Barclays Capital and Arbor Advisors.

Industries: Technology

Visit Peak Technology Partners’ Profile



“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.”

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

Visit Clayton Capital Partners’ Profile



“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.”

Industries: Health Care, Life Sciences

Visit Vertess’ Profile



“Since 1985 Beacon Equity Advisors has worked with business owners seeking to grow or divest closely held businesses.  Our team of advisors is made of up of entrepreneurs who understand business operations, business culture and business owner objectives. We strive help our sellers understand the value of the enterprise then put together transactions to meet their objectives.”

Industries: Industrials, Materials, Business Services, Consumer Goods, Technology, Health Care, Consumer Services, Life Sciences

Visit Beacon Equity Advisors’ Profile



“BlackRose Group is an M&A firm focused on sell-side and buy-side transactions. The firms areas of specialty include Energy, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Business Services and TMT. BlackRose’s market is primarily focused on 5-50 million in transaction value, although they are a bit flexible outside of that range. The firm welcomes all opportunities and are open to discuss at any time.”

Industries: Industrials, Health Care, Distribution, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Life Sciences, Telecommunications, Business Services, Materials, Media

Visit BlackRose Group’s Profile

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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